Trial Judge in Notre Dame/Obama Graduation Protest Case Recuses Herself and Steps Aside Amid Accusations of Bias Against Pro-lifers

In the ongoing case involving 88 pro-life demonstrators arrested at the University of Notre Dame in the days leading up to (and in some cases during) [Alleged] President Barack Obama’s commencement speech and receipt of an honorary degree, the assigned trial judge has recused herself just days after defense attorneys filed an appeal from her earlier ruling, denying recusal. Judge Jenny Pitts Manier filed an order, dated January 6, 2010 (an Epiphany gift for the defense), reciting that she had decided to recuse herself, stepping aside from the case and sending it back to the Chief Judge of the St. Joseph County civil court for assignment of a new trial judge. This action came just days after Thomas More Society attorneys had filed papers in Indianapolis for purposes of prosecuting an appeal to the Indiana Appellate Court to secure a ruling that Judge Manier should be required to step down from hearing the so-called “ND88” cases because she had either an actual or perceived bias against the defense and should be disqualified from the case. The defense lawyers’ claims of bias were based on the Judge’s prior rulings in abortion protest litigation, her husband’s outspoken criticism of Catholic pro-life teachings while serving as a tenured philosophy professor at Notre Dame, and other factors.