Judge in Mack Civil Case Denies Recusal Motion

The judge assigned to a civil case against a man accused of shooting another judge said his law clerk's past relationship with the plaintiff does not warrant his recusal.

Annie Allison is the secretary for Washoe Family Court Judge Chuck Weller, who was shot and wounded through the window of his chambers in June. Allison was hit by shrapnel and suffered minor

She is suing the alleged shooter, Darren Mack, for civil damages. Mack is also scheduled to stand trial in October on charges of shooting the judge after first killing his estranged wife.

Mack's civil lawyer, Mark Wray, argued that Judge John Iroz should recuse himself from the case because his law clerk, Kenneth Lund, and Allison have known each other since high school and dated over the years.

But Allison's lawyer, Cal Dunlap, countered that Lund and Allison were never romantic and had not seen each other in seven years. Because Lund said he wouldn't let their friendship influence his work on the case, the judge should be allowed to stay.

Iroz agreed, and noted that the outcome will be up to a jury.

Wray said he plans to appeal the ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Iroz, a judge in the Sixth Judicial District that covers Humboldt, Lander and Pershing counties, was assigned the case after all Washoe District Court judges were disqualified.

Iroz on Tuesday also heard arguments about whether to postpone
this case until after Mack's criminal trial in October, and said he would rule on that issue in April.

Mack is accused of fatally stabbing his estranged wife, Charla, in the garage at his town house on June 12. Authorities allege he then drove to a downtown Reno parking garage and shot Weller as he stood in his third-floor chambers.

Weller, who was handling the couple's contentious divorce, recovered from his wounds.

Mack has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted-murder charges. His trial before Clark County Judge Douglas Herndon is Oct. 1.

Allison, 27, filed a lawsuit against Mack in August, saying she suffered "extreme shock, horror and terror and fear for her life," from the shooting, and is seeking unspecified general, special and punitive damages in excess of $50,000.

Besides the case filed by Allison, Iroz was assigned the guardianship and a sealed juvenile case involving the Macks' 8-year-old daughter.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)