Walker judge recuses himself

The federal judge who presided over former Georgia Sen. Charles Walker’s criminal trial recused himself this week from presiding over Mr. Walker’s appeal.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge William T. Moore is now assigned to hear Mr. Walker’s habeas petition and determine the legality of Mr. Walker’s imprisonment.

Mr. Walker was convicted of 127 criminal counts and sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2005. Federal prosecutors convinced the jury that Mr. Walker committed the crimes in schemes to enrich himself by defrauding advertisers with his newspaper, looting cash receipts collected during the CSRA Classic, and deceiving campaign contributors and two public hospitals.

Mr. Walker asked Senior Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr. to recuse himself from the appeal. One of the issues Mr. Walker raises is an allegation his defense attorneys were ineffective because they did not ask Judge Bowen to recuse himself from Mr. Walker’s trial. Mr. Walker contends he warned the attorneys that Judge Bowen could be biased against him because Mr. Walker forcefully opposed Judge Bowen’s appointment as a federal judge in 1979.

Mr. Walker also sought the recusals of two other federal judges — Judge Lisa Godbey Wood who served as the U.S. Attorney while Mr. Walker was being prosecuted, and Judge J. Randal Hall who ran against Mr. Walker and won Senate District 22 in 2002.

Mr. Walker, 61, is serving his sentence at the Estill Federal Correctional Institute in South Carolina. His anticipated release date is September 2014.

Mr. Walker filed the habeas petition in March. The U.S. Attorney’s office has indicated through court documents that the prosecutors will challenge the petition.

With two decades in the state House and Senate, Mr. Walker was one of the most powerful politicians in Georgia before his conviction. He won the 2004 election to regain his senate seat while he was under indictment. Mr. Walker rose to Senate majority leader and was considered a possible gubernatorial candidate.

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