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OKC pharmacist says judge in his case can't be fair

BY NOLAN CLAY Published: November 13, 2010

photo - Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott gestures Tuesday from the bench. <strong>Sue Ogrocki - AP</strong>
Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott gestures Tuesday from the bench. <strong>Sue Ogrocki - AP</strong>

A pharmacist alleged Friday the judge in his murder case cannot be trusted to perform judicial duties without bias because the judge had made racial slurs against Hispanics.

The pharmacist accused Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott of repeatedly calling Hispanics “wetbacks.” The pharmacist alleged the judge in August said “if they needed someone to hold a shotgun to their heads to get them back across the border he would be the first to volunteer.”

The pharmacist alleged the judge in May told his female bailiff “you need to hurry up and have 10 white babies because the Mexicans are going to catch up with us.”

The pharmacist, Jerome Jay Ersland, called for Elliott to step down from his case “to protect the integrity of the courts.”

The judge already has refused once to step down. The judge's refusal came Tuesday in a private meeting with defense attorneys and prosecutors. The judge now must reconsider the request, this time in a public hearing.

The pharmacist is not Hispanic. His attorneys, though, contend the judge's disdain for a particular group calls into question the judge's overall ability to be impartial.

“If he's that biased about them, how the hell can he be fair about anything?” lead defense attorney Irven Box told The Oklahoman.

Defense attorneys Friday afternoon filed a 20-page legal brief outlining their accusations against the judge. They contended the judge has shown in other ways he can't be fair, such as getting legal research on criminal cases from his wife, an assistant district attorney.

District Attorney David Prater said the allegations are not relevant to the pharmacist's case. He said defense attorneys raised the issues only to delay the trial. He said prosecutors have been ready for trial since June.

“I just don't know what's true and what isn't, but … none of this has anything to do with the Ersland case,” Prater said. “Frankly, it looks like an attempt to blackmail the judge … into getting off the case.”

The district attorney also said the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled “a judge has the right to hold an opinion, just like any other human being.”

Elliott declined Friday to comment. The former prosecutor has been a judge for almost 12 years and is known to have conservative views. Elliott stood in line last December in Norman to get Sarah Palin's autograph on the former vice presidential hopeful's memoir, “Going Rogue.”

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