Arrow-right Camera


Sat., May 17, 2014

Horton takes bias lightly

The phenomenon of judges not disqualifying themselves in cases where they are biased or even appear to be biased is very troubling. The credibility of a decision in a case is seriously undercut if not entirely destroyed if the judge in the case has or appears to have an ax to grind. Justice Joel Horton needs to take this matter more seriously.

I am a former Elmore County prosecuting attorney who is now engaged in an independent study project at the University of Utah on the problems with the Idaho state judiciary. I remember State vs. Burdett, a murder case that I worked on in front of then Judge Horton.

It turns out that, a number of years earlier as a deputy attorney general, Joel Horton had worked for the passage of the very provision of Idaho’s felony murder statute that could have resulted in this defendant’s execution. In the nine months that Horton had the case, he never disclosed his history with the statute. It only came to light when a new attorney on the defense team discovered it and moved for Horton’s disqualification.

Steven Warrick

Salt Lake City

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