State requests judge recuse himself from Heath White case

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Prosecutors are trying to get a new judge in the case of a sheriff-turned-judge accused of stealing.

In a motion filed last week, the Attorney General’s Office states District Court Judge Charles Brown has made comments in court that show he’s biased and that he should recuse himself from Heath White’s embezzlement case.

White, the former Torrance County sheriff, is accused of stealing from taxpayers, but his case is still in limbo.

“Currently, what’s pending is suppression of all the evidence,” White’s attorney, Sam Bregman, said.

Judge Brown still needs to rule on whether evidence of White’s alleged embezzlement can be used in this case. Bregman claims a search warrant was served on an Edgewood feed store that White doesn’t even own.

“We filed to suppress all of it because of the search warrant and its omissions and misrepresentations,” Bregman explained.

It was an issue the state didn’t anticipate would come up at White’s July preliminary hearing.

The state filed a motion last week urging Judge Brown to recuse himself from the case, stating Brown during that hearing was biased against the state by making a suppression ruling, and expecting the state to have presented evidence at that hearing.

It was a discussion that led to a heated back and forth in the courtroom.

“Call your witness up. I’ll give you a chance,” Brown said to the prosecutor in July.

“We usually get 10 days even to consider responding, judge. This is completely out of line because we haven’t even had a chance to research this issue,” the prosecutor responded.

The defense isn’t buying the state’s motion, even calling it “damage control” in its filed response this week.

“I think Judge Brown is a very fair judge,” Bregman told News 13. “He gave the state a thorough and fair chance to present their issues, and I think this motion to recuse him is baseless.”

In the filed response, Bregman said the state is “resorting to shenanigans” for the sake of preserving the case.

“I think the state just has a sense their case is weak and it’s not going their way,” Bregman said.

The state also claimed Brown is keeping the case from moving forward by not scheduling hearings.

Judge Brown would not give a comment on the state’s motion or White’s response.

White, who was elected magistrate judge in Moriarty last year, has been suspended from the bench.

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