Judge quashes subpoenas issued by criminal defendant
WEST VIRGINIA–In early May, a trial judge quashed subpoenas issued to two newspaper reporters by a criminal defendant who was attempting to force the judge to recuse himself from the case.
Harold Doug Gunnoe, who is on trial a second time for a 1991 murder, issued subpoenas for the notes and testimony of Lawrence Messina of the Charleston Gazette and Stacey Ruckle of the Daily Mail during a recusal hearing. Gunnoe sought information about alleged off- the-record conversations between the reporters and Kanawha County Circuit Judge Andrew MacQueen of Charleston, in an attempt to demonstrate the judge’s bias against Gunnoe.
After reviewing articles about the case written by the two reporters, MacQueen granted the journalists’ motion to quash. James K. Brown, attorney for the journalists, had argued that the material sought by the subpoenas was neither material nor relevant to the defendant’s motion for recusal.
In November 1994, Gunnoe was convicted of murdering a social worker while on furlough from a prison work-release program, according to the Associated Press. MacQueen ordered a new trial for Gunnoe because jurors improperly discussed Gunnoe’s prior criminal history during deliberations.
For the retrial, Gunnoe requested that MacQueen recuse himself from the case, claiming that the judge had been biased in the first trial. MacQueen denied that request. (West Virginia v. Gunnoe; Media Counsel: James K. Brown, Charleston)