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Federal judge in Black case steps aside

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The federal judge who had been slated to handle the sentencing of former House Speaker Jim Black has stepped aside.

Judge James Dever says Black's case is unique and that assigning the case to another judge would be in the public interest.

In a 64-page order, Dever also says there's a public need for closure in the case.

Black's lawyer Ken Bell had asked Dever to recuse himself because Dever had been one of the attorneys who represented Republican leaders and a GOP voter in challenging state officials on redistricting maps earlier this decade.

Bell didn't allege actual bias by the judge, but he said a reasonable person might question Dever's ability to be impartial.

Black's sentencing had been delayed indefinitely, but Dever has now asked the clerk's office to reassign the case to another judge.

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