Judge Removes Himself From Aiken's Case

Defendant's Lawyer Cites 'Bias And Prejudice'

January 29, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

The judge who was scheduled this morning to hear the case of the Westminster man accused of threatening to kill Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. removed himself from the case Monday.

Circuit Judge RaymondE. Beck Sr. will formally be removed from the case of Charles GerardAiken III when Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold rules this morning onrecusal motions made by Aiken's attorney.

Those motions, filed Jan. 21, asked Beck to refrain from handlingthe case because of "bias and prejudice, personal misconduct and thegeneral appearance of impropriety," court records show.

Aiken, 47, of the 1000 block of Brown Road, was charged May 23 with threatening Burns during a late-night telephone call to his house.

Charging documents say Aiken "contacted the judge by phone and demanded to meet with him." Those documents also say that Aiken had earlier told hissister he wanted to "off the judge."

He was arrested and placed on $200,000 bond, which later was raised to $300,000. He was released on a lower bond in June, pending the completion of a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation.

Aiken and his former wife, Carolyn Mincher of Towson, fought a bitter two-year custody battle for their two children.

Burns was the presiding judge in the dispute, in which Mincher was given custody. Mincher was represented by the Westminster law firm of Beck, Hollman, Hughes and Finch, of which Beck was a principal.

Mincher also was employed as a secretary of the firm, according to court records.

Aiken's Hagerstown attorney, R. David Pembroke, said in court papers that Beck and his former law firm represented Aiken's former wife throughout the divorce proceedings, in addition to providing her with employment.

Pembroke this morning also is expected to argue against admitting written testimony from Mincher's brother-in-law, Paul D. Hancock. The Cupertino, Calif., accountant sent notes of a phone conversation he had with Aiken to Westminster attorneyJ. Barry Hughes, who then sent a copy of those notes to Beck.

In those notes, Aiken is alleged to have threatened to "take out" Mincher's attorney because he had "nothing else to lose."

Pembroke citedHughes' sending of those notes to Beck as a reason to remove the judge from the case.

A jury trial into the criminal charges against Aiken was to begin this morning, but that trial -- now most likely to be heard by Arnold -- will be rescheduled.

If convicted, Aiken could face up to 15 years in jail or a $2,500 fine.

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