HEPPNER — Defense attorney Dan Stephens seeks to keep one circuit judge off the manslaughter case against Veronica Andrade.
Stephens, of Hermiston, filed the motion Tuesday with Morrow County Circuit Court to disqualify Judge Jon Lieuallen from presiding over the case. Stephens explained on the request he did not feel the defense would receive “a fair and impartial hearing and trial” from Lieuallen.
Stephens did not respond to a request for comment before deadline Thursday.
But Roy Blaine explained how disqualifying a judge works. He is the trial court administrator for the 6th Judicial District encompassing the circuit courts in Umatilla and Morrow counties.
“The supplemental local rules to Oregon Uniform Trial Court Rules allows for an attorney in any case to disqualify two judges,” Blaine said. “They can disqualify one and disqualify another.”
Attorneys have a fairly short period from the start of a case to seek a disqualification, and the request has to come before the particular judge issued any significant rulings in the case. Attorneys also have to declare a reason, Blaine said, “but it can be fairly generic.”
Blaine said he has not noticed a pattern of Stephens filing disqualifications.
“My impression would be, without digging any deeper, this is a one-time thing,” Blaine said.
The Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office, meanwhile, continues to disqualify Circuit Judge Eva Temple of Hermiston from presiding over its cases. Blaine said the court staff will take care not to schedule proceedings for Andrade on days Lieuallen has the gavel.
Andrade, 39, of Boardman, faces charges of first-degree manslaughter, driving under the influence of intoxicants, recklessly endangering another person and reckless driving. Oregon State Police arrested her Sunday morning in the wake of a crash on Interstate 84 about 10 miles east of Boardman that injured a 3-year-old child and ejected and killed a 7-month-old infant. Andrade remains in the Umatilla County Jail, Pendleton, in lieu if $500,000 bail.
The next proceeding in the case is Monday. The Morrow County District Attorney’s Office plans to present its evidence in the case to a grand jury before then.