The Arizona attorney general's office is defending Judge Susan Graber -- and its most recent death penalty win -- saying there's no reason the judge should recuse herself from the case of murderer Kevin Miles.
The Arizona federal defender moved for Judge Graber's recusal last week, saying the facts of Miles' case bear a strong similarity to the 1974 carjacking murder of Graber's father, Julius. A lay observer would "entertain a significant doubt as to Judge Graber's impartiality," Assistant Public Defender Timothy Gabrielsen wrote.
Assistant Attorney General Jonthan Bass fired back Wednesday, saying the motion was untimely -- coming a month after Graber and another judge denied Miles' petition for habeas corpus -- and unfounded.
"Miles did not move to disqualify Judge Graber until the panel ruled against him on the merits," Bass wrote. "The delay suggests that Miles is misusing the recusal statute for strategic purposes."
There's no authority for a judge's duty to recuse when a close relative has been a victim of a similar crime, Bass added. In any event, the murder of Judge Graber's father occurred "almost 40 years ago, 24 years before she was confirmed to this court" and 14 years before her appointment to the Oregon Supreme Court. "Since assuming the bench, she has ruled impartially in countless murder cases."