Patronage Probe

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Governor Ernie Fletcher's trial judge has removed himself from the case.

Franklin District Judge William Guy Hart says his acquaintance with the whistle-blower who prompted the hiring investigation could become an issue. The hiring investigation led to Fletcher's indictment this month.

In a court filing Tuesday, Hart says he wanted to "avoid any appearance of impropriety."

It will be up to Kentucky Chief Justice Joseph Lambert to appoint a replacement judge.

Hart also says the Fletcher administration's accusations of "judge shopping" and conflict of interest also factored into his decision.

Fletcher is charged with breaking state hiring laws by rewarding political supporters with state jobs.

His arraignment date is June 7.