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Opinion 84

The Commission has been asked for an Advisory Opinion as to whether a judge should disqualify himself in a case in which the husband of his wife’s first cousin is a party. Rule 2.11(A)(2) requires disqualification when “[t]he judge [or the judge’s spouse] is within the third degree of relationship to any of the following listed persons…domestic partner, intimate partner, or any other member of a judge’s family residing in the judge’s household is within the third degree of relationship to any of the following persons: (a) a party to the proceeding,  . . . .” Rule 2.11(A)(2) and the Terminology section provides that the degree of relationship is calculated according to the civil law system and the commentary thereunder states that the fact that a cousin is a party or a lawyer in the proceeding does not disqualify. For this reason, the Commission concludes that the relationship posited in the questions submitted does not constitute per se disqualification under the Canon, but whether his impartiality might be reasonably questioned under Rule 2.11(A) would depend upon the existence of other facts which might justify such a conclusion.

[Pertinent Code of Judicial Conduct provisions: Rules 1.2(B), 2.4(B), 2.11(A). Cross reference to other relevant opinions for review: #20, #33, #71, #72, #93, #128, #140, 168.]

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