Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 21, Ed. 1 Friday, October 7, 2011 Page: 21 of 68
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Appeals court rejects
'homophobic panic' claim
Lawyers for Robert Van Hook,
convicted of murdering gay man in
1985, told court psychological
reports could have supported his
claims of mental disease
USA CORNWELL I Associated Press
CINCINNATI — A federal appeals court on
Tuesday, Oct. 4 upheld an Ohio man's death
penalty for killing a man he met in a gay bar in
1985, rejecting claims that prosecutors violated
his rights by not providing psychological rfe^
ports showing he may have been motivated by
A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed a
lower court's ruling upholding the death
penalty for Robert Van Hook, 51. The panel also
rejected claims of ineffective counsel.
Van Hook's attorney, Keith Yeazel, said lues-
day that he will either appeal to the full 6th Cir-
cuit or the U.S. Supreme Court after he has a
chance to review the ruling.
The Supreme Court in November 2009 re-
versed an earlier decision by the 6th Circuit
Robert Van Hook
panel that had found
ineffective trial coun-
sel, and the panel
said Tuesday that it
was bound by the
high Court's decision.
Van Hook's latest
appeal argued that
the psychological re-
ports showing he
may have been moti-
vated by "homopho-
bic panic/' or
rejection of his homo-
sexual urges, rather than robbery, could have
been used to support his claim of mental dis-
ease; The reports also would have been used to
counter the murder element of "specific intent
to cause the death of another person" and the
aggravated robbery factor contributing to the
death penalty, the appeal stated.
Van Hook claimed temporary insanity, but
never denied strangling and then stabbing
David Self to death at his Cincinnati apartment.
Prosecutors said he lured Self to the apart-
ment with the intention of robbing him. He
then mutilated Self's body with a kitchen knife,
hiding the murder weapon in the corpse before
fleeing to Florida, where he was arrested and
From Page 19
was, in Plaintiffs' own words, 'similarly situ-
ated to (Plaintiffs) for purposes of marriage,"'
the lawyers wrote; "And it is entirely possible
— indeed, it is
quite likely, accord-
ing to Plaintiffs
themselves — that
Judge Walker had
an interest in mar-
rying his partner
stood in precisely
the same shoes as
the Plaintiffs before
sor, Chief Judge
James Ware, re-
jected similar argu-
ments in late
August, after the coalition of religious conser-
vative groups that qualified Proposition 8 for
the November 2008 ballot made the first at-
tempt in the nation to disqualify a sitting judge
Chief Judge James Ware
based on sexual orientation.
Ware said the presumption that Walker
could not be unbiased was "as warrantless as
the presumption that a female judge is. inca-
pable: of being impartial in a case: in which
women seek legal relief;"
In an apparent response, the coalition's at-
torneys wrote that they were not suggesting
that gay or lesbian judges could never preside
over cases involving gay rights questions.
"We know of no reason to believe, for exam-
ple, that Judge Walker would have any per-
sonal interest in the outcome of litigation over,
say, the constitutionality of the military's 'don't
ask, don't tell' policy," they said. "Nor would
there be any issue with a gay or lesbian judge
hearing this case-ao long as a reasonable per-
son, knowing all of the relevant facts and cir-
cumstances, would not have reason to believe
that the judge has a current personal interest in
The 9th Circuit already is reviewing whether
Walker properly concluded the ban violates the
rights of gay Californians and if Proposition 8's
sponsors were eligible to appeal his ruling once
the state's" attorney general and governor de-
clined to challenge it. A decision could come
down at any time; ■
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 21, Ed. 1 Friday, October 7, 2011, newspaper, October 7, 2011; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239188/m1/21/: accessed February 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.