Judge recuses himself from slain Dallas attorney's defamation lawsuit

The judge who received extra security after the death of a prominent Dallas attorney recused himself from a defamation case involving the slain attorney.

Ira Tobolowsky was suing two men for defamation. He would’ve been in court on Wednesday for a hearing on the case but was found dead in the garage of his burning home last week in fire that was deemed suspicious. Dallas Police are now taking over the criminal investigation.

The brother and nephew of Tobolowsky showed up at court for a scheduled hearing on the defamation lawsuit the dead attorney had filed against Brian Vodicka and Steve Aubrey. But there was no hearing because Judge Eric Moye recused himself.

The judge said in a statement, “I think at this point with the allegations which have been made related to Mr. Aubrey and his implications in the death of Mr. Tobolowsky and related issues, I don't think that it is unreasonable for a judge other than myself to hear this case."

In their third and most recent motion to recuse, the defendants included quotes from news stories like, “Judge Moye was a 'friend’ of the plaintiff" continuing "this information creates a genuine question regarding Judge Moye's impartiality and calls for his disqualification."

“We've, again, seen the same pattern from the defendants,” said Stephen Schoettmer, Tobolowsky’s attorney. “And that, again, is file a motion to recuse. There’s no basis for recusal except for the false statements that they make in their motions itself.

With the suspicion surrounding Tobolowsky's death, Judge Moye was given protection by sheriff's deputies over the weekend.

“The judge was appropriately concerned about security,” explained Schoettmer. “And the judge has been in the courtroom with Mr. Aubrey on multiple occasions.

How Tobolowsky died has not been made public. Neither Vodicka nor Aubrey have been named as part of any investigation.

But as the crowded courtroom emptied, Dallas Police homicide detective Scott Sayres was among those seen leaving the hearing.

Because of the recusals for Judge Moye and the presiding judge over civil courts for North Texas, the case will go to the Texas Supreme Court where the justices will decide what to do.

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