In Mecklenburg County and many other counties in North Carolina, the judge is assigned to a family law matter and stays with the case until the end. If you think the judge is not being fair, you may wonder if you can request that a new judge be assigned to the case. Generally speaking, it can be quite difficult to get a new judge assigned to your case. Although there is a high standard to meet, it is not impossible. There are certain circumstances where a judge can be disqualified from presiding over your case. The North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct provides the foundation for when a judge may be disqualified from a case. These instances include:
- The judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceedings;
- The judge served as a lawyer in the matter in controversy, or a lawyer with whom the judge previously practiced law served during such association as a lawyer concerning the matter, or the judge or such lawyer has been a material witness concerning it;
- The judge knows that he/she, individually or as a fiduciary, or the judge’s spouse or minor child residing in the judge’s household, has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding, or any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding;
- The judge or the judge’s spouse, or a person within the third degree of relationship to either of them, or the spouse of such a person:
- Is a party to the proceeding, or an officer, director, or trustee of a party;
- Is acting as a lawyer in the proceeding;
- Is known by the judge to have an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding;
- Is to the judge’s knowledge likely to be a material witness in the proceeding
A party always has the ability to file a motion to recuse a judge. However, that does not mean it is always the best path to take. Seeking out the advice of an attorney can help you determine if there are legitimate grounds to file a motion to recuse. Simply receiving an unfavorable decision is typically not sufficient grounds to have a judge recused. If you have reason to believe that there are grounds to have a judge recused from your case, you may want to speak with an experience attorney to determine if this is the right move to make.
If you or someone you know may have a matter where any of the above-mentioned situations are involved, contact Hatcher Law Group for a consultation with an experienced family law attorney to understand your rights and options moving forward.