Judge balks at altering schedule for trial
September 20, 2002
The judge presiding over a murder trial that has required scores of jurors, court officials and witnesses to alter their schedules is balking at altering his own.
Judge Richard Hart of Eagle County District Court told 90 prospective jurors Monday that he realized serving on a trial could be an inconvenience on the job and at home but he hoped people would understand. At that time, the second-degree murder trial of Russell Thompson was only supposed to last one week.
Now that it is apparent the trial will stretch into a second week, Judge Hart isn’t quite so understanding about altering schedules. He said yesterday that he is scheduled to attend a state judicial conference Sunday through Wednesday next week and he was reluctant to miss it. His preference, he indicated, is to continue the trial Thursday and Friday.
That schedule would create a gap of four days in the middle of the trial. Jurors agreed that they would meet for a sixth day this week on Saturday. There’s the possibility they would break until Thursday, then come back and resume collecting testimony.
If that scenario unfolds, it would potentially leave the case by the District Attorney’s office against Russell Thompson stale, and it would require Thompson to take a break in the middle of presenting his defense.
The prosecution plans to wrap up its case today. Thompson will then present his defense.
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Hart hasn’t made a decision on the trial schedule next week, and he indicated he could ask to be excused from the judicial conference. He has already proved flexible in one regard. He missed physical therapy appointments on Monday and Wednesday but vowed he won’t miss it again today.