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'Penis Pump' Judge Wins Trial Delay
By The Associated Press
December 5, 2005 -- A former Creek County, Okla., judge accused of exposing himself by using a sex toy during court trials won another delay in his case Friday, when a special judge withdrew from hearing the allegations.
Craig County Associate District Judge Gary Maxey, who had planned to begin a preliminary hearing Friday on amended charges against Donald Thompson, recused himself after Thompson's lawyers raised questions about a conversation the judge once had with a potential witness.
Maxey became the second judge to recuse himself from the nearly 1-year-old case, which has been postponed repeatedly by legal snags. Another judge must be appointed to the case before it can proceed.
Maxey said Thompson's defense asked him to withdraw because of a conversation he had with Vinita attorney J. Duke Logan about the case before he was appointed to hear it. Maxey said he recalls talking casually with Logan about the high-profile case but can't remember exactly what they discussed.
Logan serves as counsel to the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints, which investigated Thompson.
"I believe I could have maintained my impartiality," Maxey told reporters after stepping down. But he said the Code of Judicial Conduct required that he recuse himself. He also felt that court arguments over the issue would have slowed the case further.
"I wanted the defense to have a fair hearing and did not want to violate the rule on impropriety," he said.
Logan said he does not remember talking to Maxey about the case.
Prosecutor Richard Smothermon expressed frustration at the delays.
"There was no evidence or any reason this judge should have been asked or should have recused himself," Smothermon said. "Judge Maxey is one of the finest judges in the state. His integrity has never been questioned and it should not have been questioned today."
He said there's probably not a judge in the state who hasn't had casual conversations about the case given widespread media coverage of the allegations and their explicit nature.
Thompson was initially charged with three counts of indecent exposure for allegedly exposing himself by using a sexual device known as a "penis pump" under his robe while presiding over two murder trials and a civil trial in 2003.
A Sept. 26 trial on the indecent exposure counts was postponed after a judge quashed a 350-member jury pool based on a defense motion. Thompson's lawyers argued that the group was unacceptable because a judge who had recused himself from the case had participated in assembling the jurors.
A second trial date was postponed after prosecutors amended the original charges and defense attorneys successfully argued for a new preliminary hearing.
Additional charges of indecent exposure and misuse of a state computer were filed against Thompson earlier this month.
Thompson, 58, spent more than 20 years on the bench before stepping down more than a year ago.
Thompson denies the allegations and said the penis pump seized in the case was a gag gift from a friend.