Judge transfers motion to recuse in Trim appeals
by Michelle Babcock
August 24, 2014 12:35 AM | 2645 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The judge who presided over the felony trial of a former Cherokee School Board member, her husband and a political associate has transferred a motion to recuse herself from the case to another judge for a decision, “in an abundance of caution.”

As Kelly Marlow Trim, Robert Trim and Barbara Knowles move forward with appeals of their felony convictions, Superior Court Judge Ellen McElyea has transferred the motion for recusal to Cherokee Superior Court Judge David Cannon for a decision, court documents show.

Kelly Trim’s attorney filed the motion in July, which Robert Trim joined, to recuse McElyea from the case, stating there was an “undisclosed relationship” between McElyea and a witness, court documents show.

The court denied the motion based on “untimeliness,” “legal insufficiency of the affidavit” and because the Trims’ accusations “did not require recusal even when assumed true.”

However, in a document filed Aug. 12, McElyea said she was voluntarily removing herself from making a decision on whether or not to recuse herself from the case.

“The court does so in an abundance of caution, understanding the importance of the issue for purposes of appeal and in consideration that all parties may wish to perfect the record in some way,” the document states.

Since Chief Superior Court Judge Jackson Harris recused himself from the case in November, citing his wife’s employment with the school district as a conflict of interest, the sole remaining judge is expected to hear the motion for recusal.

The hearing for the motion was assigned to Cannon, and as of Friday, a hearing date had not yet been set.

Kelly Trim, Robert Trim and Knowles, the former Cherokee GOP secretary, were convicted in April of felonies for making false statements and sentenced to 60 days in jail with 10 years of probation.

The charges stem from an incident in June 2013 when the three told Canton Police Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo almost ran them over outside of a tavern in downtown Canton, after a heated school board meeting.

Trim’s attorney argued in the motion to recuse McElyea was a member of the Board of Trustees for Reinhardt University, which has a partnership agreement with the school district.

McElyea originally denied the motion to recuse herself from the case, stating her position on the board was volunteer and unpaid, and the relationship was made public on both her 2013 and 2014 financial disclosure forms.

Although McElyea will now allow Cannon to make a decision on the motion to recuse, she maintained that her relationship with the school district through the board was made public.

The three former political leaders will be allowed to stay out of jail as their appeals move forward, as McElyea granted all three bond pending their appeals in July.

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