In a significant turn of events, a man convicted of murder in Oklahoma is set to receive a new trial after it was discovered that the judge who sentenced him had engaged in a sexual relationship with one of the prosecutors involved in the case.
Robert Leon Hashagen III was convicted in February 2021 for the murder of 94-year-old Evelyn Goodall in 2013. However, after the revelation of the undisclosed sexual relationship between Judge Timothy Henderson and a prosecutor, Hashagen’s defense team appealed the conviction.
In a 3-2 decision, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruled on Thursday in favor of a new trial for Hashagen, citing that the undisclosed relationship violated his due process rights. The court recognized that the sexual involvement between the judge and prosecutor had a significant impact on the entire trial and could not be disregarded.
Judge William Musseman stated, “The failure of the judge and prosecutor to scrupulously avoid the potential for an error of this kind is indeed a betrayal of the high ethical standards to which all legal professions should aspire.”
Judge Henderson, who is married, resigned in March 2021 following allegations of sexual misconduct made by three female attorneys. Despite admitting to the consensual nature of the relationship, he maintained that he had acted impartially as a judicial officer throughout the Hashagen case.
A special prosecutor’s investigation into the allegations against Judge Henderson did not find evidence of nonconsensual sexual contact. However, the revelation of the undisclosed relationship raised concerns about the integrity and fairness of the trial, leading to the decision to grant a new trial for Hashagen.
The case highlights the importance of maintaining ethical standards within the legal profession and ensuring the impartiality of judges and prosecutors. The upcoming retrial will provide an opportunity to reexamine the evidence and ensure that justice is served in a manner that upholds the principles of due process and fairness.
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Historic House Vote Expels Rep. George Santos Amidst Scandal
In a turn of events, the House of Representatives made history on Friday with a vote to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), marking the first such expulsion in over two decades. A moment fraught with gravity unfolded as Speaker Mike Johnson wielded his gavel to formalize Santos’ removal, setting a precedent in congressional annals.
Santos, indicted on 23 counts related to wire fraud, identity theft, and other charges, has not faced conviction but stands accused of misusing campaign funds for opulent purchases. The bipartisan vote, tallying 311 to 114, signaled robust support for expulsion, with a marginally higher number of Republicans opting to retain Santos.
Questions loomed as Speaker Johnson left the chamber, his silence leaving the fate of the ongoing government spending battle uncertain. According to reports from Fox News, Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer emphasized the non-partisan nature of the decision, asserting that members concluded Santos had tarnished the House’s reputation and was unfit for representation.
Within the GOP, conflicting opinions emerged, with Rep. Darrell Issa arguing against expulsion, citing the presumption of innocence. The tight-lipped stance of the House Ethics Committee played a pivotal role in the deliberations.
Conversely, members of the New York Republican delegation, led by Rep. Marc Molinaro, asserted Santos’ commission of crimes, justifying expulsion based on a comprehensive investigation.
Santos himself predicted the outcome in an exclusive morning interview on “FOX & Friends.” This vote not only underlines the House’s rare use of expulsion powers but also sets a critical precedent in handling members facing severe legal challenges.
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