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Judge Recuses Himself From Beta Theta Pi Trial

The Centre County judge assigned to oversee the trial for former Beta Theta Pi fraternity members has recused himself from the proceedings, according to the county court administrator’s office.

A conflict of interest was brought to the attention of Judge Jonathan Grine, who then recused himself from the trial and related matters stemming from the Penn State fraternity hazing case. The nature of the conflict was not made available.

Judge Brian Marshall will now preside over all matters at the Court of Common Pleas level in the case. Marshall was previously assigned by President Judge Pamela Ruest to oversee non-trial-related matters in the case, including guilty pleas over the past three months by defendants Ryan Burke, Joseph Ems, and Bo Han Song.

Twenty former Beta Theta Pi brothers are scheduled to go on trial in February 2019 for a variety of misdemeanor charges stemming from the February 2017 death of sophomore pledge Timothy Piazza.

To date the case has involved much of the Centre County judiciary. Three of the county’s six district judges have presided over a total of four preliminary hearings and three of four Court of Common Pleas judges have overseen hearings. 

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About the Author

Geoff Rushton (

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.

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