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Related to recuse: conflict of interest


To disqualify or remove oneself as a judge over a particular proceeding because of one's conflict of interest. Recusal, or the judge's act of disqualifying himself or herself from presiding over a proceeding, is based on the Maxim that judges are charged with a duty of impartiality in administering justice.

When a judge is assigned to a case, she reviews the general facts of the case and determines whether she has any conflict of interest concerning the case. If a conflict of interest exists, the judge may recuse herself on her own initiative. In addition, any party in a case may make a motion to require the judge to recuse herself from hearing the case. The initial presiding judge usually determines whether or not the apparent conflict requires her recusal, and the judge's decision is given considerable deference. Some jurisdictions, however, require another judge to decide whether or not the presiding judge should be disqualified. If a judge fails to recuse himself when a direct conflict of interest exists, the judge may later be reprimanded, suspended, or disciplined by the body that oversees Judicial Administration. In addition, in some cases where a judge presides over a matter in which he has a direct conflict of interest, any criminal conviction or civil damage award in the case may be reversed or set aside.

Generally, a judge must recuse himself if he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party to the lawsuit or has personal knowledge of the facts that are disputed in the proceeding. The Code of Judicial Conduct, a judicial ethics code drafted by the American Bar Association in 1972 and adopted by most states and the federal government, outlines situations in which a judge should disqualify himself from presiding over a matter. Canon 3C of the Judicial Code outlines these situations, including the judge's personal bias or prejudice toward a matter or its participants, personal knowledge of the facts that are disputed in a case, a professional or familial relationship with a party or an attorney, or a financial interest in the outcome of the matter. Most interpretations of the code mandate a judge's disqualification or recusal if any of these factors are present.

In some cases the parties to a proceeding may waive the judge's disqualification and allow the judge to preside over the case. The judge's disqualification is waived when both parties agree to the waiver or when one or more of the parties continues to participate in the proceedings.

The term recusation was at one time considered an exception to jurisdiction, the effect of which was to disqualify the particular judge by reason of the judge's interest or prejudice in the proceeding.

Further readings

Abramson, Leslie W. 1992. Studies of the Justice System: Judicial Disqualification Under Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. 2d ed. Chicago, Ill.: American Judicature Society.

Comisky, Marvin, and Philip C. Patterson. 1987. The Judiciary—Selection, Compensation, Ethics and Discipline. New York: Quorum Books.


Canons of Judicial Ethics; Judicial Conduct.


v. to refuse to be a judge (or for a judge to be requested by one of the parties to step aside) in a lawsuit or appeal because of a conflict of interest or other good reason (acquaintanceship with one of the parties, for example). It also applies to a judge or prosecutor being removed or voluntarily removing himself/herself from a criminal case in which he/she has a conflict of interest, such as friendship or known enmity to the defendant. (See: recusal)


to remove from participation in a court case because of potential prejudice.
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During the conversation, according to people familiar with the matter, McGahn argued to Sessions that there was no reason or basis at that time for him to recuse.
The White House takes seriously the need for appointees to resign, recuse and divest where required," a White House spokesperson told IBT in response to questions about whether Cohn has recused himself from any Goldman-related matters before the NEC.
Finally, this Article explains why these conflicting decisions illustrate the need for better recusal standards, including standards not only for when judges must recuse themselves, but also for when judges must not recuse themselves.
Also reports have emerged that the senior Justice Department official has privately acknowledged to colleagues that he may have to recuse himself from his role overseeing the special-counsel probe into Russian meddling in 2016 elections, which he took charge of only after Attorney General Jeff Sessions' own recusal.
Sessions said would recuse himself if necessary but denied any wrongdoing.
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Kutnick will, effective with his amended Schedule 13D filing, recuse himself from all Board consideration of any corporate transactions of the type referred to in his Schedule 13D filing, so as to ensure independent evaluation thereof by the Board.
If a reasonable person thought a black judge should recuse himself from a civil rights case, that would be sufficient to recuse the judge?
Parks has been critical of the number of MTA meetings that Hahn has missed as well as the number of votes for which he had to recuse himself because of conflicts from campaign contributions.
Veres, who had called for Ruelas to recuse herself, said the vote was unfair because it gives the appearance of a conflict of interest, even if it is legal.
Stosberg to recuse himself and for the clerk to reassign this case to Honorable Judge Fulton, it was ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED.
City Councilwoman Julie Ruelas has come under fire for refusing to recuse herself from today's expected vote on a city contract with a nonprofit group she heads.