Butler County Judge Charles Pater has refused to preside over future cases involving sex crimes. His recusal is due to a written admission issued two months ago stating he may have been biased in sentencing a defendant based upon Judge Pater’s own personal experience with a family member who was a victim of a sex crime.
The defendant whose sentence may have been impacted by Judge Pater’s experience is Dustin Lawrence. He was convicted in 2016 of raping his girlfriend’s 16 year-old daughter.
In his recusal letter, Judge Pater states, “Upon further reflection of its statements in chambers to counsel on October 24, 2018, specifically, that a family member of the Court had been the victim of a similar crime which may have impacted the Court’s original sentencing determination, [Judge Pater] hereby recuses himself from further hearing the above captioned matter.”
Judge Pater has since recused himself of from hearing any other sex-offense cases. This revelation of bias has prompted the Butler County Prosecutor’s office to sift through many documents and attempt to inform any defendant sentenced in Judge Pater’s courtroom over the last 10 years of the recusal. Prosecutor Mike Gmoser says he believes the State has an ethical and legal obligation to inform those defendants.
Now, a defendant sentenced by Judge Pater for a sex offense over the last decade may have an opportunity to readdress sentencing with the Court to mitigate the severity of his or her sentence.
If you or someone you know is in this situation, feel free to call the experienced attorneys at Rittgers & Rittgers for a free consultation at 513-496-0134.