The Trumbull County Prosecutor’s office has responded to a motion by the attorney for Nasser Hamad that asks for Judge Ronald Rice to disqualify himself and the prosecutor’s office from the case.
Hamad, 47, of state Route 46 in Howland, is charged with two counts of aggravated murder and several counts of attempted aggravated murder in the Feb. 25 deaths of two people and wounding of three others at his home.
His attorney asked for the disqualifications on the grounds that their roles in handling the criminal complaint filed against Hamad in the beginning puts them in conflict with their duties now.
But Chris Becker, asssistant county prosecutor, said in a filing Monday that Hamad’s motion “is not based on any rational understanding of the law.”
The filing says Hamad’s attorney has tried to argue against the use of a “common and perfectly legal procedure” known as the filing of a “prosecutor’s complaint.”
But Hamad’s attorney “has not cited one” legal precedent to back up his contention that use of a prosecutor’s complaint and determining probable cause disqualifies a judge from then serving as the judge in the case, Becker said.
“A trial judge is not disqualified to sit in a trial on the merits by having heard and decided a preliminary proceeding in the same cause,” Becker said, quoting American Jurisprudence, an encyclopedia of U.S. law.
The disqualification motion is one of nine motions Hamad’s attorney, Geoffrey Oglesby of Sandusky, has filed so far.
The next hearing in the case is March 30.