Two judges removed from Montwheeler case

By Pat Caldwell

The Enterprise

VALE – Anthony Montwheeler won’t have to deal with Malheur County Circuit Court Judges Erin Landis or Lung Hung in the future.

Instead, a new judge will step into hear his formal plea after Landis ruled Friday in favor of a motion by Montwheeler to have him and Hung disqualified from the case.

Montwheeler is in the Malheur County Jail and accused of kidnapping and murdering Annita Harmon, an ex-wife, and killing David Bates of Vale, and injuring his wife Jessica in a collision while eluding police in January.

Friday’s court action was just the latest in a series of legal motions filed in the case by Montwheeler’s attorney, David Falls of West Linn.

Falls moved last month to disqualify Landis and Hung because both men prosecuted a 2005 case involving Montwheeler. In a hearing in late May, Landis said he had no recollection of the case and heard arguments from Falls about the motion. Landis continued the hearing to Friday.

Falls made several Constitutional arguments to support his motion to disqualify the judges, all which Landis turned aside. However, Landis did agreed that state law allowed Montwheeler to object to the judges.

Senior Circuit Court Judge Patricia Sullivan will preside when Montwheeler enters his plea at 9 a.m. next Monday.