PHOENIX — A federal appeals court ruling said an Arizona inmate sentenced
to die is entitled to a hearing on whether
a judge was biased.
A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel’s ruling last week says a lower court
reasonably denied some appeals on behalf of Richard Hurles. He was convicted for the stabbing death of a librarian.
However, the 9th Circuit panel said the lower court didn’t reasonably determine
whether then-Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Ruth Hilliard should have
excused herself from initial reviews of Hurles’ trial and sentencing.
Hilliard had presided over Hurles’ trial in the 1992 killing of Buckeye
librarian Kay Blanton. The victim was stabbed 37 times and Hilliard while the
case was pending described the killing as brutal.
After a jury convicted Hurles, Hilliard sentenced him to die.