The state court administrator has assigned 2nd District Judge David Roth to preside over a March 2 hearing in 1st District Court to decide the date and location of Steven Ray James' first-degree murder trial.

However, 1st District Court Administrator Nelda Hollingsworth said the assignment does not necessarily mean Roth will preside over the trial.James, 37, is charged in the death of his 3-month-old son, Steven Roy James, and has been in the Cache County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bail since his arrest on Oct. 23, 1986.

It was Roth who decided earlier this month that 1st District Judge VeNoy Christoffersen, who recently retired, should be removed from the case.

Public defenders Nathan Holt and Robert Gutke had requested the disqualification, arguing that Christoffersen had denied James a change of venue for the trial, a decision that was overturned by the Utah Supreme Court.

The attorneys also argued that Christoffersen's executive secretary, Pat Parker, would be a prosecution witness.

Roth ruled that while the venue issue alone was not sufficient reason to disqualify the judge, Parker's appearance as a witness "could be perceived by the public as a conflict of interest."