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Requesting a New Judge in a Case

While most judges strive to be professional and impartial, clients sometimes express concerns regarding bias or other inappropriate attitudes or conduct by the judges assigned to their cases.  In such cases, they may ask that the judge recuse himself or herself (assign the case to another judge), or alternatively, that their attorney attempt to have another judge assigned to their case.

There are many types of inappropriate attitudes and behaviors that might warrant recusal, including but not limited to: bias (social, political, religious, personal, or other), having an inappropriate demeanor (exhibiting excessive anger or rudeness, for example), and close family or friend relationships with individuals involved in the case that is before the judge.

Merely exercising judicial discretion and making a decision with which a party does not agree, however, is never a reason for recusal.  Having had a prior experience with a particular judge in another case is usually also not a reason for recusal, by itself.  It is not uncommon, for example, for many criminal defendants to have the same judge preside over more than one criminal trial. It does not mean that the judge is “biased” simply because they have prior experience with a party, unless they have exhibited some behaviors that would warrant recusal.

If a judge refuses to recuse himself or herself from a case after he or she is requested to do so, a party may choose to report the judge to the Judicial Conduct Board, or to appeal the judge’s eventual decision in their case to a higher court (which may choose to vacate the decision and remand the case to a different judge, should the higher court be convinced of the judge’s wrongdoing in that case).  In some counties, a complaint to the President Judge might also be warranted.

If you are interested in learning more about recusal and would like advice specific to your circumstances, contact Tanner Law Offices at (717) 731-8114 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.