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Oklahoma judicial complaints called highly secretive

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said Thursday he would neither confirm nor deny whether he has filed a complaint of judicial misconduct against District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure.
By Randy Ellis and Nolan Clay Modified: September 3, 2010 at 8:13 am •  Published: September 3, 2010

Prosecutors told Oklahoma County District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure this week they were going to file a judicial complaint against her, sources have told The Oklahoman.

District Attorney David Prater said Thursday he could neither confirm nor deny he has filed a complaint.

"It's improper for me to discuss the issue," Prater said.

The judge declined to comment Thursday.

Under Oklahoma law, investigations into complaints of judicial misconduct are highly secretive — much like grand jury investigations, said Eric Mitts, director of the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints.

Mitts said it would be improper for him to disclose whether a complaint against Bass-LeSure has been made.

Oklahomans received a rare glimpse into what appears to be a judicial misconduct investigation this week when Bass-LeSure complied with a request from prosecutors to step down from presiding over the high-profile murder case of Oklahoma City pharmacist Jerome Jay Ersland.

The decision Tuesday to step down followed closed-door meetings with prosecutors and defense attorneys.

The judge was told a conversation she had with an Edmond gym trainer about a pending drug charge against him had been secretly recorded.

Bass-LeSure told personal trainer Colton Taz Ama, 20, in private that she would not sentence him to prison if he would plead before her to the pending felony drug charge, sources told The Oklahoman.

Bass-LeSure, 43, reportedly handed Ama a written list of three attorneys and told him they knew how to operate in her court. One of the attorneys on the list, Joe Brett Reynolds, is on Ersland's defense team.

That created concern among prosecutors that Reynolds might have some favored status in her courtroom.

Under the Code of Judicial Conduct, judges are not supposed to offer legal advice to people with cases pending before them outside the presence of attorneys involved in the case.

Ama's case has been reassigned to another judge.

Rick Rice, Ama's attorney, told The Oklahoman on Thursday that prosecutors made no promises to his client in exchange for secretly recording Bass-LeSure.

"There was no deal," Rice said.

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