Henry Circuit Court 1 Judge Bob Witham has recused himself from two judicial review requests that were filed in May.
The cases involve appealing a section of the county’s development code that deals with wind energy conversion systems (WECS). The judicial review filings are to determine if the Henry County WECS ordinance is valid and if the planning commission has the legal authority to authorize commission approved uses for meteorological towers.
Witham said he has a family member who sat on the Henry County Planning Commission in 2009 when the current WECS ordinance was adopted and felt that it was best to step away from the case.
According to court filings, the “Code of Judicial Conduct requires the disqualification of the Judge under circumstances which might create the appearance of impropriety.”
Court documents show that Witham disqualified and recused himself from further action on both cases Wednesday.
Following the local rules for the Henry County court system, a special panel was selected to replace Witham as the judge for both cases. The panel includes Delaware Circuit Court 3 Judge Linda Wolf, Jay Superior Court Judge Max C. Ludy, and Randolph Superior Court Judge Peter D. Haviza.
The petitioners – a group consisting of residents from Middletown, Straughn, New Castle, Shirley, Spiceland, Mooreland, Sulphur Springs and Hagerstown – have until June 17 to strike one of the judges from the panel.
The respondents – the Henry County Planning Commission, the Henry County Commissioners, and Big Blue River Wind Farm, LLC – will have 10 days from that decision to strike a second judge from the panel, leaving one special judge to review the claims.
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