WILKES-BARRE — A hearing has been set to determine if a homicide case should be transferred to another district court after the District Attorney’s office accused the presiding judge of being biased.
Dana Ganjeh, 39, allegedly beat girlfriend Linda Frick to death at a Kingston home Aug. 8. He’s facing an open count of criminal homicide.
Prosecutors don’t want District Judge James J. Haggerty to preside over Ganjeh’s preliminary hearing, which had been scheduled for this Friday.
According to a motion filed Monday, which was signed by Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis along with other members of the DA’s office, comments regarding potential bail for Ganjeh made at his preliminary arraignment could imply Haggerty had already made a judgment on the case.
The motion says Haggerty directed prosecutors to argue why Ganjeh should be denied bail, then decided to deny bail after determining that no set of conditions could assure Ganjeh’s presence at future hearings.
According to prosecutors, state law prohibits bail for those accused of first-degree murder. Since first-degree murder is one of the potential outcomes of an open count of homicide, prosecutors are arguing Haggerty’s suggestion of a possibility of bail was improper.
“(Haggerty’s) failure to follow the rule of law during the preliminary arraignment was indicative of the fact that he has improperly pre-judged the outcome of the case (as something less than first and/or second degree murder),” the motion goes on. “Therefore, the preliminary hearing scheduled in the matter should be transferred to another Magisterial District Judge.”
The motion goes on to accuse Haggerty of saying to Kingston Police Detective John Anthony that he did not think prosecutors could prove their case. Prosecutors use this as further evidence that Haggerty is biased.
On Tuesday, Luzerne County President Judge Richard M. Hughes III issued an order, setting a hearing on the prosecutor’s motion for Friday, Sept. 28. The defense team will have until the day before to file a response.
Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan