PHILADELPHIA — A judge today removed herself from a murder trial to avoid ruling on a motion to bar the victim's sister, a Roman Catholic nun, from wearing her habit in the courtroom.
Defense attorneys had sought to prevent Sister Ann Colleen Dougherty from appearing in court in her calf-length, blue-and-white habit, saying the obvious presence of a nun related to the victim might influence the jury.
Common Pleas Court Judge Juanita Stout indicated to lawyers in a private session Friday that she would rule on the defense's motion today, but she changed her mind after the issue came to public attention.
To Raise Issue
A second judge was appointed to preside over the trial beginning next Monday and Robert Simone, a lawyer for one of the four defendants, said he would again raise the issue of the habit before the new judge.