Two Years After His Death, Judges Step Back From Kendrick Johnson Case

Two Years After His Death, Judges Step Back From Kendrick Johnson Case

The Lowndes County judge who has been hearing Kendrick Johnson's case recused himself Wednesday, citing failure to "mediate the presently outstanding issues in the Kendrick Johnson matter" as the reason, in a letter. Other judges in the circuit have also stepped back.

Published January 9, 2015

It has been nearly two years since Kendrick Johnson, 17, was found dead in a rolled-up gym mat at Lowndes County High School in Valdosta, Georgia, and very little progress has been made in uncovering the sketchy details of his death.

The Lowndes County Superior Court judge who has been hearing the case recused himself Wednesday, citing failure to "mediate the presently outstanding issues in the Kendrick Johnson matter" as the reason, in a letter posted by WALB. Other judges in the circuit have also stepped back.

Currently, Johnson's family has a civil lawsuit against the Lowndes County Sheriff, Chris Prine, and CNN filed a civil lawsuit against Lowndes County Schools, WCTV reports. Superior Judge Harry Altman said he does not see these outstanding issues being resolved through "informal mediation."

"After much consideration, contemplation and discussion with the other judges in the circuit, I deem it appropriate to recuse in the matter, thus necessitating the matter being assigned to another judge or judges," Judge Altman wrote in a letter to the family and other parties associated with Johnson's case, Wednesday. 

"Given the fact that officials with whom the judges in the circuit deal with every day are involved, it is not fair to the parties for any judge in this circuit to rule on contested matters of importance to the parties and the community," he continued. 

The family held a press conference Thursday following the release of the statement. "He wants everybody to get a fair shake in this," family attorney Benjamin Crump said, according to WCTV.

"One thing we know, when you have relationships, when you have relationships, when you have history, even if it is fair, there's a hint of impropriety," he continued.

Johnson's family will memorialize the second year of his death on Saturday with a rally.

Follow Natelege Whaley on Twitter: @Natelege_.

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(Photo: Justice for Kendrick Johnson via Facebook)

Written by Natelege Whaley

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