Monday, January 5, 2009

Judge’s Arrest Demanded Recusal, 4th DCA Rules

The opinion in Moskowitz v. Moskowitz released this week from Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal made clear that recusal is required not based on the actual existence of bias, but on a well founded fear of bias, in this case resulting in part from the Judge's arrest on marijuana charges. Of note is the Fourth District's statement that "We do not gainsay the striking improvidence of allowing the Judge to continue to sit on civil cases while criminal charges were pending against him. Yes, the Judge is entitled to the presumption of innocence in his criminal case. But that hardly generates a coincident supposition that litigants in cases over which he presides while his own criminal charges are unresolved need have no reason to fear his impartiality has been impaired. We are bereft of reasons to escape reversal on this ground."

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