Consequences of Judges Not Recusing Themselves
Recusal is the process of a judge stepping down from overseeing a particular case in which the judge may have a conflict of interest. Both federal and state laws hold that judges must recuse themselves if there are grounds to do so. Depending on the circumstances, judges are subject to punishment for not recusing themselves.
If the judge’s decision not to recuse himself or herself was accidental, then there is not likely to be any penalty. For example, if a judge is not aware that proper grounds exist for recusal, then the error will probably be considered harmless.
However, if a judge declines recusal even though aware that proper grounds exist, then there can be significant repercussions. First, the result of the case can be reviewed by an appellate court, and an entire new trial can be ordered.
In addition, a judge who refuses recusal is subject to sanctions. These sanctions vary by jurisdiction, and can include suspension or even disbarment.
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Last Modified: 06-07-2012 04:02 PM PDT
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