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State calls judge biased

Prosecutors want Circuit Judge Carven Angel to remove himself from the voting fraud case against Brooksville lawyer Joe Mason.

In a motion filed Monday, prosecutors said Angel showed prejudice against them in statements he made during an August hearing. Angel had questioned the wisdom of taking Mason's case to trial rather than handling it as a civil matter.

Mason has been charged with illegally voting in the 1990 and 1991 Brooksville city elections by listing his mother's address as his own while he actually lived east of the city limits.

Prosecutors say that during a pretrial hearing Aug. 27, Angel made several remarks that show he thinks the case is frivolous.

Assistant State Attorneys Jim McCune and Reginald Black said in the motion that Angel's attitude could endanger a fair and impartial trial, which has been set for Oct. 26 in Ocala.

Angel is expected to rule on the state's motion later this week.

The following are some of the judge's comments that the prosecutors cited in their motion:

"People do not vote now as it is. They do not register because they do not want to serve on a jury. My goodness gracious, if serving . . . on a jury will frighten people off, how about slapping them with a third-degree felony for goodness sakes?"

"I dare say that if we checked the voter registration rolls that there is a substantial bulk of people that we could slap with a third-degree felony charge because they have moved from this condo to this apartment."

"The purpose of these voting laws is not to be a trap and a snare to catch Boy Scouts because they have moved and gone off to college and don't live there and just forgot to change their residency or something."

Neither Mason nor his attorney, Bill DeCarlis, was in the Marion County courtroom Monday.

DeCarlis had problems returning from a weekend in North Carolina, officials said. A law clerk from his Gainesville office attended the hearing instead.

The last time Mason failed to appear, Angel issued a warrant for his arrest at the state's request. The next day, Mason showed up in court, the warrant was canceled and the judge ordered that he attend all future hearings.

McCune said Monday he would not bother asking for another warrant.

"I don't think we'd get that from this judge," the prosecutor said.