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Hampton Circuit Court judges recuse themselves from hearing Cory Bigsby case

Cory Bigsby .png
Posted at 11:27 AM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-17 18:11:43-05

HAMPTON, Va. - Michael Gaten, chief judge for the Hampton Circuit Court, disqualified the judges of the 8th Judicial Circuit from hearing Cory Bigsby's case.

Gaten's court order reads as follows:

"I, Michael A. Gaten, Chief Judge, do consider it improper for the Judges of the 8th Judicial Circuit to hear any aspects of the captioned proceeding, and do disqualify each of us from hearing this matter which is now pending in this court. Accordingly, I do certify these facts of record in order that the Supreme Court of Virginia may designate a judge to sit for us in our place and stead as such time as may be designated by said judge in the captioned proceeding."

The decision comes days after the Hampton Police Division said they mishandled Bigsby's request for an attorney during the interview process.

Police previously stated that Bigsby voluntarily arrived at headquarters after reporting his 4-year-old son, Codi, missing. They said he was read his rights and Bigsby voluntarily waived them on January 31.

Following a voluntary polygraph test, Bigsby requested an attorney, which he was not assigned. He reportedly requested an attorney around 4 a.m. on February 1, and then again several minutes later around 4:20 a.m.

"We have our own obligation here. We didn’t meet it, frankly. We have our own obligation to maintain the highest standards of conduct to make sure we’re not skirting any lines that appear to be inappropriate or are questionable," Hampton Police Chief Mark Talbot stated during a press conference.

Due to this decision, Bigsby's bond hearing on February 25 could be delayed, as the judge who hears Bigsby's case may need to be from out of town.

A lawyer News 3 reporter Angela Bohon spoke to said the decision is unusual. Happy O'Brien with the Sheppard and O'Brien Law Firm says to see the bench take this step shows there's something we can't see yet.

"In order to preserve the sanctity of the system, they’ve decided to step down and have a third party come in, a judge from another location or a retired judge come in and oversee the case," O'Brien said. "I think that’s very good on the part of the bench in Hampton. We want to have transparency in our judicial system. We want to make sure there’s impartial judging by the judges, if you will."

O'Brien said for the judges to step down, it shows they are taking the case very seriously by understanding its magnitude and not wanting to leave any questions for either of the parties involved or the public in what they rule.

He added the move shouldn't cause a big delay in the case.

News 3 is working to learn more about the court's decision.