October 26, 2012

Defense asks for new judge in Kennebunk prostitution case

By Ann S. Kim akim@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

ALFRED — The lawyer for a a Thomaston businessman accused of promoting prostitution in Kennebunk is asking the judge to recuse herself.

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Mark Strong

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

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Justice Joyce Wheeler, who is based in Cumberland County, was specially assigned to the case of Mark Strong Sr. Strong is a 57-year-old insurance agent and private investigator.

Strong's lawyer, Daniel Lilley, is asking Wheeler to recuse herself because of possible bias or the appearance of bias.

Assistant Attorney General Kate Lawrence is part of the prosecution, and her husband, Jonathan Nathans, is a law clerk for Wheeler, according to the motion filed Wednesday.

"The relationship between Kate Lawrence and Jonathan Nathans presents the possibility of bias or the appearance of impropriety in the judge's activity" under the code of judicial conduct, the motion stated.

Superior Court Chief Justice Thomas Humphrey specially assigned Wheeler to the high-profile York County case. There was a concern that if a judge who normally sits in York County knew any of the witnesses, he or she would have to be recused, according to Mary Ann Lynch, a spokeswoman for the courts

Police in February searched the home of Alexis Wright, the studio where she taught Zumba and a nearby office space. Strong was arrested in July.

Wright has not been charged, but According to a police affidavit, the searches turned up video footage of Wright engaged in sexual acts, a price list and "meticulous" client records.

Lilley will argue for Wheeler's recusal and for the dismissal of the case during a hearing in York County Superior Court on Friday.

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