gavel.jpgA judge whom District Attorney challenged for bias in San Francisco’s drug lab scandal is now cleared and can continue on the case.

Monterey County Judge Thomas Wills said there was no evidence to support accusations by District Attorney Kamala Harris’ office that Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo had a bias and financial interest to rule in the Deborah Madden crime lab scandal.

Harris had claimed that Massullo was unqualified to judge because her husband is an attorney who has been involved in crime labs. Arguments were that if Massullo continued on this drug case, her husband would get free publicity for a legal seminar he spoke at related to the lab scandal.

Wills wrote “Judge Massullo’s husband is not a witness in these proceedings; he is not appearing before her in these proceedings; he is not even appearing in the same court system where Judge Massullo presides. There is absolutely no evidence of financial gain to her or her husband.”

Wills also ruled that Harris waited too long to file her challenge. He said that it had been weeks after Massullo addressed the matters in court and asked prosecutors to file all challenges immediately.

Erica Derryck, spokeswoman for Harris’ office issued a statement saying, “Judge Massullo invited us to file this challenge after refusing to respond to direct queries in open court for information about an appearance of conflict.” Derryck said filing the motions was the “only means of getting the clarification we now have from Judge Massullo.”

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