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Can i ask a judge to recuse himself from my case for conflict of interest?

Mauston, WI |

the judge that i was assigned to in a family court case to adjust child support has previously been my judge in criminal court for 3 cases. the judge that i would like my child support case to be transferred to ( the only other judge available) has been my criminal court judge in only one case, my very first offense ever. can i still ask the judge to recuse himself for conflict of interest because he was my judge in the last 3 criminal cases or is conflict of interest not an acceptable reason to request change because the other judge has also at one point handled one of my criminal cases ( though it was my first one, not my last 3)?? so does it matter that the other judge has also dealt with one of my cases in the past?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. The issue is not conflict of interest, the issue is potential "bias." A conflict of interest is more to do with the judge being the opponents relative, or something along those lines. (i.e. the judge having some potential personal stake in the outcome of the case).

    Bias, under the situation you describe, is a pretty flimsy argument. Problem being, you are questioning the judge's credibility to judge your domestic issue dispassionately.

    You can try, but I think you would lose (or be forced to appeal, and then lose).

  2. Instead of trying to get the judge removed for bias or cause, you can ask for a substitution of judge. This can be done without reason but there are time limits in which you must ask for the substitution.

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  3. I think that asking for the judge to recuse himself would probably be counterproductive. You might try requesting a substitution of judge if the case is early in the process, though. Or, just remember that judges deal with thousands of people each year with criminal problems and family problems and other problems and you are probably just one drop in the bucket. If he does remember you and your cases were unremarkable, the judge at most probably remembers the general gist of what happened in your cases and maybe what appeared to have been the root causes (i.e. drug or alcohol use and/or mental health challenges.) In a small county, you should also know that replacing one judge with another might not be terribly effective because the court staff and other judge might end up chatting with each other about the case or the judge might think he recognizes you from the courthouse and pull your other court files. In an adversarial system like ours, the opposing party usually does a pretty good job of pointing out the flaws in the other party, too. Get an attorney if you have something worth fighting about (i.e. placement or property division).

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