Washburn County Circuit Court Judge Eugene Harrington has been removed as the presiding Judge over the Doug Nitek murder trial in the shooting death of Rusk County Deputy Dan Glaze in October of 2016.
Chief Judge Scott R. Needham announced today that he will issue administrative orders assigning new circuit court judges to Sawyer County Circuit Court case 2016 CF 139, State vs. Doug S. Nitek; and Rusk County Circuit Court case 2017 CF 04, State vs. Doug S. Nitek.
Online circuit court records show that Judge Harrington was assigned to Sawyer County Case No. 16 CF 139 on February 16, 2018. A criminal complaint was filed on July 20, 2016, against Nitek in this Sawyer County Case, charging him with Class F Felony 1st Degree Reckless Endanger Safety, Misdemeanor Resisting or Obstructing an Officer, Misdemeanor Criminal Damage to Property, and Misdemeanor Failure to Install an Ignition Interlock Device.
Nitek had made an Initial Appearance in August 2016 in Sawyer County Circuit Court regarding his charges in Sawyer County Case No. 16 CF 139 and had been scheduled to return to court on that case in November 2016.
Rusk County Case No. 17 CF 04 in which Nitek is charged with allegedly killing Rusk County Deputy Glaze was assigned to Judge Harrington in April 2017. Although a reason for the removal of Judge Harrington was not given in the statement issued by Chief Judge Needham, Judge Harrington stated during a motion hearing held on February 22, 2018, that he found the Sawyer County Court process in Case No. 16 CF 139 “disturbing.” According to a court transcript from that motion hearing Judge Harrington also said:
“For a lot of reasons the procedural posture and the court process of Sawyer County 16 CF 139 are very disturbing to me. The disturbing part is if - everything is contingent upon the largest little word in the English language of if - if Sawyer County had been processed timely, perhaps there is no Rusk County case whatsoever.”
Today, 8 Days after these on-the-record comments were made, Judge Needham removed Harrington.
A jury trial had been set for May regarding Nitek’s homicide charges. New judges are expected to be assigned in coming days.
Read the court transcript of the February 22nd motion hearing HERE (via WQOW).
Needham is the chief judge of the Tenth Judicial Administrative District, which encompasses 13 northwestern Wisconsin counties. Authority of the chief judge to assign cases is designated in Supreme Court Rule, Chapter 70.