The black teenagers from Jena, Louisiana were originally charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder in an attack on a white student at Jena High School. It’s been reported that the alleged attack came after the white student left a hangman’s noose on a tree on the school campus.
After massive civil rights protests the attempted murder charges were later reduced to aggravated battery. One of the original six defendants pleaded guilty and is now in a juvenile facility.
Trials for the remaining five have been on hold since their lawyers filed motions asking that the judge be removed. The lawyers say the judge has made prejudicial comments about the boys, calling them “trouble makers” and “a violent bunch.”
Judge J.P. Mauffray rejected the recusal motions, saying he could be impartial, but the lawyers appealed and today the appeals court judge ruled the judge’s remarks created an appearance of impropriety.
The ruling removes the trial judge, and legal moves to appoint a new judge to hear the case are now underway.
Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.