Skipper case comes to abrupt end

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 18, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; James Skipper&8217;s bid to have Seventh Judicial District Judge Leo Boothe recused from his case ended abruptly Friday when Judge John Joyce ruled there was no case from which to recuse him from.

&8220;Based on the chronologies submitted, I find there are no motions before Judge (Leo) Boothe,&8221; Joyce said. &8220;Therefore, a recusal motion is moot because there is nothing for him to hear.&8221;

Joyce had ordered both Skipper and Assistant District Attorney Andy Magoun to present him with a chronological list of every motion filed and the status of each motion.

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When the lists were submitted and studied, Joyce said all of the many motions filed had been resolved.

The three most recent of the motions &8212; dated Aug. 12, 2005 &8212; asked three things of Boothe: that he reconsider a previous denial to reconsider his sentence, that he accept an application for a writ of habeas corpus and that Boothe recuse himself from the case.

The motions were filed, and therefore considered, in that order.

The first two were denied, leaving Skipper with no pending motions to request a new judge to hear.

Two other motions to set aside or modify his sentence were filed in Feb. of 2004 were not specifically dealt with in the court&8217;s minutes and therefore demanded attention.

Both were shown by later action to have been taken care of.

The first of the motions contained Skipper&8217;s allegations of his being offered a secret deal, a deal from which he alleged Boothe reneged.

Skipper said in a March 16, 2005, hearing he had withdrawn the motion in favor of the second, less accusatory motion to reconsider.

That second motion was denied, as indicated by his August motion to reconsider.

In the end, Skipper&8217;s sworn testimony from the March 2005 hearing may have hurt his recusal effort the most.

Under cross-examination from Assistant District Attorney Ronnie McMillan, Skipper said he had no feeling that Boothe was biased against him.

It was after that motion was denied that the current fracas began with Skipper, and a reneged-on secret deal prevented his release from prison.

But the motion was ruled upon, Joyce found, and there were no more to hear. Therefore, no need for a recusal hearing.

Skipper informed Joyce he would appeal the ruling to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and asked to have the testimony of his subpoened witnesses taken into the record.

Magoun asked Joyce for a ruling on his motion to end the matter due to its lack of timeliness.

Both were denied.