When Does A Los Angeles Criminal Judge Have To Recuse Himself From A Case?
There’s a lot of times where judges decide that they cannot be fair and impartial on a case. It could be because they know a defendant in a case. It could be because they know an attorney in the case, whether it be a defense attorney or a prosecutor. It could be because the subject matter hits too close to home. Another issue I’m seeing coming up more and more is that judges are married to other court personnel – like a judge could be married to a prosecutor and then they have to put a disclosure out to have all the defendants to sign. If a defendant won’t sign it, then they’re going to have to recuse themselves from the case and the defendant does not have to have that judge on the case if they don’t feel the judge can be fair and impartial.
That’s the issue. A judge has to recluse himself if they don’t think they can be fair in the case. Obviously, we want fairness. We want defendants to get a fair trial, have fair judge and prosecutors, not have any bias against a particular defendant – so that’s what a judge is going to be looking at when they decide whether they should recuse themselves from a case.
I’ve seen once in a while some issues come up in a case, and for whatever reason the judge becomes angry at the defendant – maybe the defendant doesn’t show up to court multiple times. Maybe the defendant has some sort of an outburst in the court while the judge is trying to conduct his or her business. That could lead to a recusal because the judge could become angry, start to have bad feelings toward the defendant just because they don’t like them just because of the way they’ve handled themselves in court.
So, there’s all sorts of different reasons that a judge can recuse themselves. Sometimes the judge does it on their own. They say you know what, I’m going to recuse myself. I think another judge would be better suited to handle this case. Other times, a defense attorney might bring it up and say, Your Honor, we think you should recuse yourself. Here’s the reason why – state the reason – and then the judge will have to make the decision. I don’t see it a lot to be honest with you. Judges do not want to have the appearance of impropriety so they’re not going to recuse themselves on a case. It’s typically going to have to be a darn good reason for judge to recuse themselves.
You may be reading this and saying, what does it mean when a judge recuses himself? It basically means, they say I’m not handling this case. I’m going to assign this case to another judge or I’m going to send this to the presiding judge that’s in charge of the courthouse and say, look I can’t deal with this case, and then the presiding judge can go through the process of assigning it to another judge.
So, when you start thinking about recusal, a lot of people get mad and they don’t like a judge. Just because you don’t like the judge doesn’t mean he’s going to recuse himself. Judge because a judge may be a hanging judge in that particular courthouse in Los Angeles, that’s another reason you don’t get to recuse him. Getting in front of judges sometimes is just pure luck or bad luck. The court system is supposed to be set up so the judges are assigned by lot for the most part, and nobody should be able to be manipulating which judge gets which case. If we saw that happening, that might be another reason for a judge to recuse himself or to make some sort of a complaint to the powers that be in that particular courthouse that this should not be the judge on the case. It wasn’t done fair. Prosecutors don’t get to pick the judge that they like. It should be done in a fair impartial manner and that’s what we’re looking for when we’re dealing with a criminal case – fairness. Someone who is going to listen to all the evidence. Somebody who is going to keep an open mind. Somebody who is going to make rulings that are based on the law, not in a personal bias toward a particular defendant.
So, if you have a situation where you see a judge is doing some things that are not right. You see circumstances where a judge should recuse himself, then you should tell your attorney and if your attorney is not on it, then you better get another attorney. Get somebody who is going to fight for you and get somebody who is going to make sure that justice is done in relation to your criminal case in Los Angeles.
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