OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Thursday, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that one Oklahoma inmate is entitled to a new trial due to a sexual relationship between the presiding judge and one of the prosecutors.
A decision was made by Appeals Court Judge Scott Rowland, and three concurring judges, to give Aaron Fort a new trial after it was decided that Judge Tim Henderson’s sexual relations with one of the prosecutors interfered with a fair trial.
Fort was convicted and sentenced to 23 years for drug trafficking in 2020.
Thursday’s court decision described how “the risk that Judge Henderson’s sexual relationship with the prosecutor,” presented a bias that violated Fort’s due process.
In the document, it cited law that says, “the probability of actual bias on the part of the judge or decisionmaker is too high to be constitutionally tolerable.”
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater agrees with the ruling.
“When rights are not protected and laws are not followed, justice fails. Mr. Fort deserves a fair trial; and with the decision by the court today, he will receive one,” said Prater in a statement seen below.
Munda is appealing Hashagan’s case to the same body that ruled a new trial for Fort.
The attorney expects the appeals court to view his argument in a similar light.
“They strongly endorsed the idea that it’s a judge’s first obligation to be impartial,” said Munda. “And even the appearance of any kind of impropriety was highly unprofessional and warranted a new trial.”