(redirected from recusing)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.


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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


to remove from participation in a court case because of potential prejudice.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
To this Justice Sikri said, he is recusing from the matter and can't say anything.
She was, of course, acting entirely properly in recusing herself under the current rules and did not know her decision to recuse herself would result in the appellants effectively losing their right to appeal.
Furthermore, Radenkov declined to spell out his reasons for recusing himself, which was another breach of procedure.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, who appeared for Common Cause, the NGO that filed the plea, questioned Justice Sikri for recusing from hearing the case and said aACoeWe get a feeling that your lordships donaACAOt want matter to be heard.aACA[yen]
Haris resumed his role as Nawaz's chief counsel on Tuesday after recusing from the case earlier due to many reasons including Supreme Court's "dictation on completing the trial within a month" and working on weekends.
Last week in an ( interview with the New York Times , Trump attacked Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe.
The BCCI president ( Manohar) may consider recusing himself from all proceedings involving Mr Modi in present and future," Abdi had said on Tuesday -- the same day Modi had filed his reply to the third show cause notice.
But soon before the announcement, McGahn spoke to Sessions by phone and urged him against recusing himself from the investigation.
Last week, Trump had expressed anger at Sessions for recusing himself from the Justice Department's investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election.
He is recusing himself, but not because of the revelations
20 (ANI): Hitting out at Jeff Sessions for recusing himself over matters related to the 2016 presidential campaign, President Donald Trump said he would not have chosen Sessions to be his Attorney General had he known this would happen.