Judge recuses in Tyler felony trial
Major County Associate District Judge N. Vinson Barefoot recused himself from the criminal trials of four county family members last week, citing possible conflicts with a separate but related civil case. Both cases involve the Tyler family, of which four adult family members are charged with abuse, rape by instrumentation and assault and battery.
Until last Friday Judge Barefoot, presided over both cases, which he stated could lead to "the appearance of impropriety." "I have lived this case for three years now . . . and I feel unbiased in both cases," said Judge Barefoot. But, said Barefoot, the risk was there that content from the criminal trial might be mentioned in the confidential civil case, or vice versa. All records of the civil case are sealed. "I don't want to be talking about the felony case and inadvertently mention something that is confidential in nature," said Judge Barefoot last Friday. Stepping down from the criminal case, according to Judge Barefoot, was "the best safeguard" to ensure the confidentiality of the sealed civil case.
Judge Barefoot recused himself from the criminal case after consulting with District Judge Ray Dean Linder in the Major County Courthouse last Friday. Judge Linder is set to appoint a new judge to the case this week, but the appointment had not been finalized at the time of this printing.