Monday, October 15, 2007

No Bright Line

Is a judge automatically disqualified from all cases involving a law firm that employs his son-in-law as a law clerk?  The  son-in-law works "primarily for one attorney with a major firm in a small community." The Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee of the Florida Supreme Court opines that a "bright line requiring disqualification in all cases involving the employment of a judge's relative by a law firm may be misplaced." Rather, the issue should be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Disqualification is appropriate only where "the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned." Here, the son-in-law is a part time law student employee and "has a de minimus interest in the firm and the proceeding...the result may be different if the law clerk were actively working for the lawyer appearing before the judge or...actively working on a case pending before the judge." (Mike Frisch)

Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink

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