Judge Lawton Stephens was removed Friday from a case involving a man accused of killing a police officer.
Sources say he was removed because of conflict of interest.
Clarke County Superior Court Judge David Sweat made the decision after a hearing in which witnesses testified that Stephens had a long-standing acquaintanceship with Athens-Clarke police officer Tony Howard, who was wounded in a March 2011 shooting.
Jamie Hood is charged with wounding Howard and killing police officer Elmer "Buddy" Christian III in the shooting.
He faces the death penalty if convicted.
Howard's wife Shirlisa testified that shortly after her husband was taken to the hospital, Stephens arrived at an emergency room packed with fellow officers, friends and others concerned about the wounded officer.