A judge removed himself from the murder case of the parents of a 4-year-old boy left locked in an SUV, citing an anonymous comment made in the Review-Journal’s annual “Judging the Judges” survey.
District Judge Ken Cory recused himself, saying the comment angered him to the point that he could no longer be fair and impartial in the case, according to attorneys in his courtroom on Monday.
In the survey, one lawyer said Cory “is the dream judge of the convicted. One need look no farther than his recent bail reduction of an LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) couple acused [sic] of murder by child abuse absent no change in circumstance and after every other judge to hear the matter remained firm on the higher bail. By the way the RJ forgot to mention that Judge Cory is also LDS.”
Cory said he believed the comment was made by someone in the district attorney’s office, but not the prosecutors involved in the case. About 800 Clark County lawyers participated in the 2010 “Judging the Judges” survey. The identity of lawyers rating judges was kept confidential.
The comment was not published in the Review-Journal in its May articles about the survey. But Cory saw a copy of the comments about him.
The judge did not return calls requesting comment Monday.
Stanley and Colleen Rimer are accused of second-degree murder for leaving Jason Rimer, their disabled son, in a sport utility vehicle for 17 hours in June 2008. Jason suffered from a genetic disease that crippled his body and mind.
The Rimers also face multiple counts of child neglect in connection with incidents involving their four other minor children.
At the time of his death, Jason and his siblings lived in a filthy home littered with animal feces, had head lice and had been provided minimal food, according to court records.
Three previous district judges who handled the case had set bail for each defendant at $250,000 and denied motions by defense attorneys to reduce the amount.
In January, Cory reduced the bail for the defendants to $20,000 and ordered them to be placed on house arrest. Cory said he believed $20,000 was adequate because he did not feel either Rimer was a flight risk and they posed no danger to their minor children, who are living with their maternal grandparents in Idaho.
Clark County District Attorney David Roger said at the time Cory reduced the Rimers’ bail that he respectfully disagreed with the judge’s decision.
Roger declined to comment on Cory’s recusal.
Attorneys with the public defender’s office representing Stanley Rimer said they did not wish to comment immediately. Colleen Rimer’s attorney, Michael Sanft, could not be reached for comment.
On Monday, Cory was scheduled to hear a motion to dismiss the charges against Stanley Rimer.
The judge’s recusal is expected to delay the Rimers’ trial, which had been scheduled to begin Nov. 15, for a fourth time.
In September 2009 the trial date was delayed because a key defense witness — one of the Rimers’ adult children — was serving a religious mission in Australia.
It was not immediately known when a new judge would be assigned the Rimer case. When that happens, prosecutors could ask to revisit the bail issue.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at email@example.com or 702-380-1039.