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Judicial Recusal

Fairfield, CA |

Can a Judge hear a matter where the petitioner is an attorney who not only belongs to the same county bar as the judge, but appears in front of this judge at least once a week for the past 15+ years. Was the judge required to recuse himself?

Attorney Answers 3


Nothing in he facts you have summarized here requires recusal by the court. In fact, nothing in these facts suggests any improper or irregular conduct by either the attorney or the court. These facts will be routine, ordinary and expected in many jurisdictions.

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Recusal is an extraordinary remedy. More facts would be required to even begin to analyze. To see how difficult recusal is, use your favorite search engine for info on the currently ongoing trial of accused gangster James "Whitey" Bulger, just commencing in U.S. District Court in Boston. Defense attorneys sought recusal of the first judge, who had been a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in the 1980s, when the Boston office of the F.B.I. is known to have been protecting Whitey. The judge refused to step down and was only removed when the issue was taken to the court of appeals. Not an easy thing to do.

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Also relevant to your inquiry is whether you filed a statement of disqualification. Once you became aware of these facts, you were required to attempt to disqualify the judge if you believed that he should not have heard the case. While you probably would not have won that issue, your failure to raise the subject amounts to a waiver of the problem.

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