April 12, 2010
Judge Need Not Recuse
The South Carolina Advisory Commitee on Standards of Judicial Conduct opines that a judge need not recuse in the following circumstances:
A retired, active circuit court judge has inquired as to whether or not the judge must recuse himself or herself in the following circumstances. The defendant is before the court on various counts of criminal conduct. Among the accused's victims are family members of the clerk of court. The inquiring judge retired about 18 months after the clerk took office, but has continued in an active retired capacity. The judge had not met the clerk (nor any member of the clerk's family) prior to the clerk's election to office. However, after the clerk's election to office and prior to the judge's retirement, the judge had regular contact with the clerk and the clerk's staff on official business--generally three or four times per week. Since the judge's retirement, the contact with the clerk over the last four years has been less than once a week. The inquiring judge may have met the clerk's spouse since the clerk took office, but no more than one or two times, and the judge has not met any other member of the clerk's family, and has no social contact with the clerk, the clerk's spouse, or members of the clerk's family. The judge has never met the defendant or his family or any other victims of the defendant.
The committee found no basis to conclude that the judge would display a personal bias against the defendant. (Mike Frisch)
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