Amid criticism, Oklahoma County DA says judge caused her own problems

Black leaders and pastors urged the community to support District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure, who was accused of misconduct and asked to step down from an Oklahoma City pharmacist's murder case.
BY NOLAN CLAY Modified: September 4, 2010 at 12:43 am •  Published: September 4, 2010

A group of black leaders and pastors called Friday for community support for an Oklahoma County judge accused of misconduct, but a prosecutor said Tammy Bass-LeSure "put herself in this position."

"It's incredibly unfortunate that this judge did this and it affected this case," Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said of a murder case involving a pharmacist.

"It's incredibly irresponsible, it's immoral and it's corrupt. And it's her fault — her fault, no one else's — that we're in this situation right now," the district attorney said.

The group of two dozen black leaders and pastors gathered in front of the media Friday at the fellowship hall of the Fairview Baptist Church in northeast Oklahoma City to urge support for Bass-LeSure.

"We believe in her," said J.A. Reed Jr., the Fairview Baptist Church pastor. "She's a proven leader."

The group also called for a civil rights investigation of Prater for "going after" Bass-LeSure and another black judge.

"It is in times like these that one sees who their true allies and true enemies are," Reed said. "We encourage Tammy to stand strong."

The district attorney said he would welcome an investigation by any credible agency such as the U.S. Justice Department's civil rights division in Washington, D.C.

"I have nothing to hide," he said.

Prater said of the judge, "Unfortunately, she's put herself in this position. It's not anything the district attorney's office did. ... I had a duty to act, and that's what we did."

Prater, who is white, said he is not a racist.

"It just really doesn't matter to me what your skin color is," he said. "We're going to seek justice, period."

Judge asked to leave pharmacist's case

Bass-LeSure on Tuesday took herself off the high-profile murder case involving the Oklahoma City pharmacist. She stepped aside after prosecutors complained about her fairness.

Prosecutors asked for her removal because she gave a gym trainer the names of three attorneys even though he had a drug case assigned to her. Prosecutors had the gym trainer wear a hidden microphone July 22 to record a conversation with the judge. Prosecutors told the judge this week they would file a judicial complaint against her, sources have said.

One attorney listed by the judge is representing the pharmacist.

Prater said again Friday that he cannot legally reveal whether he has filed a judicial complaint.

"What became obvious to us is that the state of Oklahoma was not going to be able to receive a fair trial due to some activities — alleged activities — by the judge in this case. And that's why we've had to do what we've done," Prater said.

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DA, judge get new terms
Oklahoma County District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure and District Attorney David Prater did not get opponents this election year, so both will have new four-year terms.

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