JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A man accused of the drug-induced murder of a St. Johns County resident wants to remove his judge for bias.
Oscar Novo is charged with first-degree murder for selling fentanyl to 27-year-old Parker Clarkson, who died of an overdose in 2018.
READ: >> Jacksonville man charged with murder after 27-year-old dies from fentanyl overdose
Novo says Circuit Judge Howard Maltz can’t be impartial because of his strong position on opioids.
Maltz issued a memorandum in 2017 that he would no longer accept plea deals in cases involving the sale or trafficking of opioids.
In the memo, Maltz calls opioids "a cancer that has grown and metastasized in the body politic of the United States" and "one of the greatest health problems of our time."
In a subsequent interview with the St. Augustine Record, Maltz defended his memo, saying he felt compelled to address the "pervasive problem" of opioid deaths.
Novo’s attorney asked Maltz to disqualify himself from the case, but the judge refused -- a rare move, since all that is typically required to get a judge to recuse him or herself is a "legally sufficient" motion.
Novo’s attorney has asked for a stay in proceedings while Novo appeals. The state’s Fifth District court is currently reviewing the case, but have offered no timeline for an opinion.
Novo's arraignment is now set for Sept. 12.