City man wants judge recused from appeal

Mosey claims county jurists are biased against him

From Mirror staff reports

HOLLIDAYSBURG — An Altoona man sentenced to three-to-six years in a state prison is asking a Blair County judge to recuse himself and fellow judges from hearing his post-conviction appeal issues for a new trial.

Tarence M. Mosey, an inmate at the State Cor­rectional Institution at Houtzdale, pleaded guilty in October 2017 to homicide by vehicle while DUI and other charges in the 2015 death of the pregnant Brandyn Boyd, 29, on the North Eighth Street Bridge.

Transported Monday to the Blair County Court­house, Mosey advised Judge Timothy Sullivan that he didn’t want him or any other Blair County judge to preside over proceedings permitted under the Post-Conviction Relief Act. Mosey suggested a change of venue, so his appeal would be heard in another county.

In explaining the request, Mosey said he believed “the court,” later clarifying that he meant all Blair County judges, are biased against him based on the statements they’ve made in court during his criminal court proceedings.

Mosey also advised that he filed lawsuits against Blair County Judge Jackie Bernard, the former prosecutor of his criminal case, and the Blair County Prison, whose supervisory board has included Judge Daniel Milliron.

The Altoona Mirror is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit Mosey filed against Bernard, alleging that the newspaper’s coverage of the case subjected him to personal attacks.

When Sullivan asked for more specifics behind the recusal, Mosey said he recalled seeing every potential juror raise a hand when asked if they knew about his case and the crash. But Sullivan, Mosey said, denied a request for a change of venue to move the trial to another county.

Sullivan asked Mosey if he recalled any follow-up questions for those jurors who, despite having some knowledge, could be fair and impartial. Mosey said yes. But Sullivan acknowledged that Mosey would not have been part of discussions at the bench with attorneys and potential jurors.

One of the jurors chosen for trial, Mosey said, had a family member killed by a drunken driver, but that didn’t prompt his removal, Mosey said.

Sullivan proposed that he order a transcript of the jury selection process, with copies to be forwarded to Mosey, who is currently representing himself with help from attorney Mark Zearfaus as standby counsel, and to First Assistant District Attorney Pete Weeks.

Weeks told Sullivan that Mosey’s post-conviction petition should focus on errors allegedly made by attorney Robert Donaldson, who had been representing Mosey.

Mosey’s rights to additional post-conviction appeals, Weeks said, were waived with the entry of the guilty pleas in exchange for the recommended sentence.

Sullivan told Mosey he will take a close look at the jury selection transcript and the record to see if he can identify anything that would prompt him to recuse himself.

“As I sit here today,” Sullivan told Mosey, “I’m satisfied that I can be a fair and impartial judge for your (post conviction) proceedings.”

Sullivan said if something causes concern, an out-of-county judge will be re­quested to hear Mosey’s appeal.