Judge Who Oversaw Garner Case Recuses Himself From Proceedings About Grand Jury Transcripts

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The judge who was to decide whether to release the Eric Garner grand jury transcripts has removed himself from the proceedings, saying he wanted to avoid the potential appearance of a conflict of interest, the New York Times reports. Judge Stephen K. Rooney’s wife is a chair on the board of the Richmond University Medical Center, the hospital whose EMTs first responded to the scene. Judge Rooney also oversaw the Garner grand jury and approved the first brief disclosure shortly after it decided not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold death. A spokesman for the court system said Rooney’s connection to the case hadn’t previously been an issue because a judge’s involvement with grand juries is limited (they swear jurors in), and the Staten Island District Attorney’s first disclosure request was limited in scope. The next hearing regarding the transcripts will likely take place in January, when a new judge has been assigned.