Opinion 136

The Judicial Qualifications Commission has been asked for an opinion as to whether a judge should be disqualified when his former law clerk is counsel for one of the parties before the court.

Rule 2.11(A) provides in pertinent part as follows:

(A) Judges shall disqualify themselves in any proceeding in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned, or in which:

(1) The judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party’s lawyer….

Thus the fact that a former law clerk is counsel for one of the party’s before the court is not specified as per se grounds for disqualification, but if, by reason of this relationship the judge is in fact biased or prejudiced or the situation is such that his impartiality might reasonably be questioned then he should disqualify.

[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Rules 1.2(B), 2.4(B), 2.11(A). Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #54, #71, #119, #128, #135, #142, #182.]

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