â€œIt's a joke,â€ Prater said. â€œIt hurts the justice system, period. It makes people outside of this courthouse wonder what in the world is going on. â€¦ How many times can Irven Box say someone's a racist? Me, the judge, who's next? â€¦ It's ridiculous. It just is really to inflame this whole process.â€
Prater said attorneys, judges and community leaders â€œfrom all ethnic groupsâ€ have contacted him to volunteer to defend the judge. â€œThere's no one in this courthouse who believes you are a racist,â€ Prater told Elliott.
In their legal response, prosecutors argued the U.S. Supreme Court and other appeals courts have established that judges cannot be disqualified just because they are opinionated. They gave several examples including a case where a black judge trying a racial discrimination lawsuit had criticized the Supreme Court for being too hesitant to make civil rights changes.
Prosecutors also argued the judge's wife, Sandra Elliott, only sent the judge a copy of a legal ruling about television cameras in the courtroom. They said that was entirely proper.
Ersland, 59, was charged with first-degree murder after he shot a masked robber six times in May 2009 inside the Reliable Discount Pharmacy in south Oklahoma City. Killed was Antwun â€œSpeedyâ€ Parker, 16, of Oklahoma City.
Ersland, who lives in Chickasha, has said he acted to defend himself and two female employees. Prosecutors say he went too far when he fired the last five shots, in effect executing an unconscious, unarmed robber who was no longer a threat.
Defense attorneys plan to ask Oklahoma County's chief judge to remove Elliott if he refuses to step down.