Collin County District Judge Mark Rusch has been recused from hearing a capital murder case. The move comes after he signed a search warrant that allowed police to search the law office of the defendant’s lawyer, Keith Gore. On Aug. 21, Senior District Judge Gary Stephens signed a short order recusing Rusch, who is judge of the 401st District Court. Bonham solo Steven Miears, who represents defendant Mark Lyle Bell along with Gore, a McKinney solo, says he learned yesterday evening that Stephens signed the order. Miears, on behalf of Bell, sought to recuse Rusch, alleging Rusch had become a material witness in the case, because he had seen evidence in the case that police returned to him, including letters Bell wrote to Bell's wife from jail. Police and the Collin County DA’s Office sought the search warrant, because they believed that Gore had a pair of boots that Bell allegedly wore during the crime, according to the search warrant. The boots were not found, according to a motion the DA’s office filed in the case, but letters and a shoe box were. “We’re pleased with it, and we think it vindicates what we’ve been saying all along: that Keith Gore did absolutely nothing wrong,” Miears says. “And we’re disappointed that the Collin County DA’s Office would put a district judge in the position of having to issue an illegal search warrant of a lawyer’s office.” Collin County assistant district attorney John Rolater, who represented his office during the recusal hearing, declines comment. The capital murder case has not yet been reassigned to a new judge, Miears says. Gore still faces a motion to disqualify that the DA’s office filed against him. The DA’s office alleges that Gore is also a material witness in the case; they claim in a motion to disqualify that he is also involved in the chain of custody, because Bell’s wife allegedly gave him evidence in the case.
-- John Council