HAMPTON, Va. — The lawyer for Cory Bigsby, who is facing charges of child neglect unrelated to his 4-year-old son Codi's disappearance, said all three Hampton Circuit Court judges have recused themselves from the case.
Attorney Jeffrey Ambrose said he got an order from Hampton Circuit Court Chief Judge Michael Gaten that said the judge would consider it improper for any of the judges to hear matters in Bigsby’s case, but did not give a specific reason why.
"There is some issue that Judge Gaten believes would keep the sitting judges of Hampton Circuit Court from being able to adjudicate this fairly," Ambrose said.
Ambrose said the Circuit Court is asking the Supreme Court of Virginia to assign an alternate sitting judge to the case.
"I do anticipate that a judge -- either an alternate sitting judge, substitute judge, or someone -- to come and sit and oversee this matter," Ambrose said.
It's not clear what it could mean for Bigsby's next bond hearing, currently scheduled for February 25.
Bigsby was arrested on several counts of child neglect earlier this month after allegedly telling police officers he'd left his four children, ages 5 and younger, home alone on several occasions.
Hampton Police Division Chief Mark Talbot said Bigsby told them it was too much of a burden to get all the children packed up and in the car when he needed to leave the house.
Weeks later, Talbot said that Bigsby's first requests for a lawyer weren't handled properly, and his rights might not have been upheld while at the police station answering questions about his missing son. However, Talbot said Bigsby offered the information about leaving his children alone before he asked for a lawyer, so those claims were still usable in court.
He had a bond hearing for the neglect charges on Feb. 8. Ambrose argued that his client wouldn't be a flight risk since his face has been widely publicized, and he'd lived in the area since 2006. He asked for Bigsby to be released from jail until his trial.
However, police officers have said he's considered the main person of interest in Codi's missing person investigation. Talbot said his account of his son's disappearance hasn't matched the evidence officers are finding.
Hampton Commonwealth’s Attorney Anton Bell also told the judge there was more to his "flight risk" calculations.
“When asked under cross-examination including military convictions, he had to admit he had an AWOL, Absent without leave,” Bell said. “Which means, your honor, he is absolutely a flight risk.”
Bigsby was denied bond that day. Ambrose appealed the decision, and that hearing is supposed to happen on the 25th.
Now, with all the judges that would normally hear the appeal recused, Ambrose said he isn't sure what will happen.
"Certainly, it raises questions about whether or not the court would be in a position to proceed with the bond hearing on the 25th," Ambrose said. "You have to have a judge and we currently are awaiting word from the Supreme Court, I would anticipate as to how to proceed with that."
Before the 25th, Ambrose said he wants to see the interview footage from Bigsby’s time with Hampton Police.
"I anticipate there being at least, 50, 60, 70 hours of footage that I need to review," Ambrose said.
Ambrose said Hampton Commonwealth Attorney Anton Bell is trying to get him the tapes as fast as possible.
“The complete scope of the civil rights violation that occurred there is not yet entirely understood and won’t be until I have had the opportunity to review all of that evidence," Ambrose said.
13News Now reached out to Bell for comment about the recusal. He tells us his "focus is on prosecuting the case".
We also asked Ambrose if his client is aware that Hampton Police acknowledged the error they made during his questioning. Ambrose said they had a good discussion about what happened.