Montgomery County state District Judge Kelly Case will continue handling the case following a recusal hearing in which he was accused of being biased against prosecutors. Retired Tarrant County District Judge Jeff Walker, who presided over the recusal hearing, ruled against prosecutors, saying they had not met the high standards required for recusing a judge.
Peterson was indicted last month on a felony charge of injury to a child for using a wooden switch to discipline his 4-year-old son earlier this year in suburban Houston. Peterson has said he never intended to harm his son and was only disciplining him in the same way he had been as a child growing up in East Texas. He faces up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.
The All-Pro running back, who was not at Wednesday's hearing, is on paid leave from the Vikings.
At the hearing, Montgomery County First Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant listed a series of incidents he argued illustrated Case's bias against prosecutors, including: Case calling each lead attorney in the Peterson case a "media whore" and Case having been represented in a prior court case by one of the attorneys on Peterson's legal team.
Grant tried to present additional evidence about a history of bias between the DA's office and Case over legal disagreements the two sides have had in recent years. But Walker didn't allow it, ruling the DA's office had failed to bring these issues up in a timely manner.
After the hearing, Grant said prosecutors will now go forward and prepare for trial. Case has set a tentative trial date of Dec. 1.
"We're going to hope Judge Case does the right thing, gives us a fair trial and at the end of that trial, we're confident that Mr. Peterson is going to be found guilty," Grant said.
Rusty Hardin, Peterson's attorney, argued against removing Case, saying the bias claims did not rise to the level of recusing the judge. Brian Wice, the Peterson attorney alleged to have represented Case, testified he wasn't Case's lawyer but only helped set up and conduct a television interview with the judge.
Peterson "has pled not guilty and he's ready to stand trial," Hardin said after the hearing.
A motion to revoke Peterson's $15,000 bond for alleged marijuana use has been on hold until the issue with Case was resolved.
Grant and Hardin said Case can now take action on that motion. A court hearing on the motion was expected to be held at some point.