One of the scariest things in a lawsuit is when a litigant believes the judge has it in for him or her. Of course, everyone thinks at one time or another that the judge “just doesn’t like me!” But it’s different when you’re firmly convinced that the judge has aligned with the other side against you.
Fortunately, this doesn’t happen much. The judiciary is, on the whole, a really respectable bunch. They even have their own special sets of rules to keep them on the straight and narrow (and here in Texas).
But occasionally judges really shouldn’t sit on a particular case. For instance, if your brother is a judge he can’t sit on your criminal trial–even if you’re ok with it the other side wouldn’t be.
There’s two sorts of “shouldn’t hear the case” situations governed by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 18a and 18b. The first shouldn’t is known as disqualification. This covers previous legal associations, monetary interests, and family relationships. The second shouldn’t is recusal. Recusal includes everything else: bias, questionable impartiality, and looser professional and financial relationships, to name a few.
Motions to Recuse or Disqualify a judge are important legal tools. They’re used in some high profile cases, and here. While it may seem frightening to ask a judge to recuse himself, a good judge shouldn’t take it personally. And if he does? Well, there’s always the appeal!
Remember folks, at the end of the day there’s no substitute for having a lawyer of your own.
And as always, our blog postings are not legal advice, nor do they constitute an attorney-client relationship!