KGOU

Judge Seals Mental Health Records, Issues Gag Order In Oklahoma State Parade Crash

Nov 9, 2015

Updated 4:46 p.m. 

After weeks of publicity, a judge has issued a gag order in the case of the woman suspected of driving her car into a crowd of spectators at the Oklahoma State University homecoming parade.

Adacia Chambers made her second appearance in court to be arraigned on four counts of second degree murder and 46 counts of assault, but while she was there, District Judge Louis Duel also ruled on motions filed by the prosecution.

Prosecutors had requested a gag order in the case and for Chambers’ health records to be sealed. In both motions , they cited extensive publicity about the case including the release of documents from an October psychological evaluation.

The judge agreed to grant the gag order and seal the mental health records. He also ordered Chambers to be sent to the Oklahoma Forensic Center for further psychological evaluation.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for December 10.

Original Post:

A new judge will oversee the case of Adacia Chambers, the woman charged with four counts of second-degree murder and 46 counts of assault and battery after the Oklahoma State University parade crash, after the presiding judge recused herself due to a personal relationship with one of the victims.

In papers prepared Friday and filed Monday, Special Judge Katherine E. Thomas said she’s personally acquainted with one of the state’s witnesses identified as a victim. It says Thomas and the court may have knowledge of facts which prosecutors and defense may disagree during the ensuing trial.

Thomas cited Canon 2, Rule 2.1 of Oklahoma’s Code of Judicial Conduct when she asked Judge Phillip C. Corley to assign another judge to the case:

Giving Precedence to the Duties of Judicial Office

The duties of judicial office, as prescribed by law, shall take precedence over all of a judge's personal and extrajudicial activities.

COMMENT

[1] To ensure that judges are available to fulfill their judicial duties, judges must conduct their personal and extrajudicial activities to minimize the risk of conflicts that would result in frequent disqualification.

Monday morning, Judge Corley assigned Logan County Associate District Court Judge Louis Duel to the case.

A hearing Monday afternoon will continue proceedings that began two weeks ago on October 26, two days after the crash that killed four people and left dozens injured. Prosecutors are seeking a gag order, and on Friday Payne County District Attorney Laura Thomas filed papers requesting Chambers’ mental health records be sealed.

Both the prosecution and the defense have filed applications to determine whether Chambers is mentally sound enough to stand trial. In court papers, Thomas claims defense attorneys violated Chambers’ rights by attaching a complete mental health report to its application.

According to the court filing, prosecutors are concerned the defense may be trying to influence the jury pool through mental health records and a series of press conferences. Thomas also says she was prematurely approached about changing the venue if and when a trial goes forward:

Although it is too late to un-ring the bell that was caused by counsel’s filing of the evaluation, the State would request the Court admonish counsel regarding this improper release of information and require that any future filings specifically related to matters of mental health or containing any mental health records be subject to court scrutiny and order as required by the statute before being made available in the public domain.

If and when the issue of defendant’s competence becomes contested, this information and other information may become evidence in a public hearing, but we are far from that stage in the instant proceedings.

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