Judge recuses herself from ex-officer's death penalty case

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge has disqualified herself from the case against a former New Orleans police officer who was sentenced to death for arranging a woman's 1994 murder.

In a one-page order Monday, U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan didn't specify a reason for recusing herself more than 20 years after she was assigned to oversee the case against Len Davis. Berrigan merely cited a law that requires judges to disqualify themselves if their impartiality "might reasonably be questioned."

Davis was convicted of charges he directed a drug dealer to shoot and kill Kim Groves after she filed a brutality complaint against him. Berrigan sentenced him to death for a second time in 2005 but was still handling his post-conviction proceedings.

The case was reassigned to U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle.

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