Motion requests Aaron Dean’s murder trial to be reassigned to new judge

A state appellate court justice will decide next week whether to reassign the case of a Fort Worth police officer charged with killing Atatiana Jefferson.

Dean is the former Fort Worth police officer charged with the 2019 murder of Jefferson. His defense attorneys filed a motion, claiming the judge was showing bias after he refused to recuse himself. 

On June 23, a presiding judge in Tarrant County will hear the matter brought by Dean and his defense team want Judge David Hagerman removed from the case.

In their motion, they’ve stated "Judge Hagerman should recuse himself or be recused from any further proceedings in this case because he has manifested an attitude towards defense counsel that clearly shows that he is not a fair and impartial jurist in this case."

Dean is charged with murder for the shooting death of Jefferson. His defense counsel has sought and had numerous continuances granted, delaying the trial. 

 This motion for recusal follows the judge’s action after yet another request for a further continuance. 

Attorney Anthony Farmer is not associated with the Dean case but gives his perspective of this latest development.

"I would say this is not a common motion that is filed," he said. "Based upon the motion I reviewed, it seems that the defense is kind of angling toward a cumulative effect of multiple things that the judge is done. Multiple rulings, the judge’s demeanor and temperament to establish that he cannot be impartial in this case. They’re basically saying based on the totality of the circumstances, here’s why we believe this judge is biased."

Dean’s attorneys allege Judge Hagerman has ignored local rules that govern conflicts in court dates and attorneys vacation schedules. They claim he failed to enforce his own gag order, referring to attorney Lee Merritt doing an interview. He represents Jefferson’s siblings in a civil matter. 

The attorneys also allege expert witnesses are unavailable for the currently set trial date. 

Farmer points out the filing of the recusal motion in and of itself puts the case on hold. The trial was scheduled to begin next week.

 "Once a motion to recuse is filed, it automatically stays the proceeding. So no action can be taken by the trial court judge," Farmer said. "That motion is then referred to the administrative judge. The administrative judge can rule on it and have a hearing. Or what’s commonly happened is the administrative judge will refer to another judge to have a hearing on the motion."