Trial judge’s playing of audio recording did not require trial judge to sua sponte recuse himself retroactively from capital murder trial.

March 15, 2011

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227 Judges Trial judge’s playing of audio recording of popular music song before formally sentencing defendant to death for capital murder did not require trial judge to sua sponte recuse himself retroactively from capital murder trial, based on alleged pre-existing bias; lyrics of song, and trial judge’s comments comparing “sad little life” of fictitious girl portrayed in song to life of murder victim, made it evident playing of song was intended as expression of sympathy for victim rather than as expression of hostility to defendant.
Com. v. Tharp, 830 A.2d 519 (Pa. 2003)

Suggested by William Masalehdan; Intern; Pennsylvania Superior Court; Pittsburgh, PA