NC Court Of Appeals Orders New Trial, Cites Judge's Behavior

A convicted killer will get a new trial because a former judge with a history of legal run-ins could have biased the jury with improper comments.

That's from a ruling today by the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Willie Louis McLean was convicted of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, attempted armed robbery, three counts of armed robbery, and first-degree murder in the 2002 killing of a Raleigh public utilities supervisor.

Court documents say Wake County Superior Court Judge Evelyn Hill sentenced McLean to life in prison without parole for the murder conviction and up to more than 17 years in prison for the other charges.

In his appeal, McLean argued that Hill deprived him of a fair trial and violated his rights to due process by belittling his lawyer and interfering with the questioning of the trial's only witness.

The appeals court agreed.

Hill resigned in January 2006 while facing accusations of professional misconduct for the third time in her five years as a judge.