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Georgia Judicial Conduct Canon 3(E) [Duty of Judge; Disqualification]

by merlin on October 1st, 2013
  • Sumo

At the moment, a particular project has caught the lion’s share of my attention.  However, this is relevant information that many persons are unfamiliar with, and ought to be brought to the attention of the public at-large:

E. Disqualification

(1) Judges shall disqualify themselves in any proceeding in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where:

Commentary: Under this rule, judges are subject to disqualification whenever their impartiality might reasonably be questioned, regardless of whether any of the specific rules in Section 3E(1) apply. For example, if a judge were in the process of negotiating for employment with a law firm, the judge would be disqualified from any matters in which that firm appeared, unless the disqualification was waived by the parties after disclosure by the judge. Judges should disclose on the record information that the court believes the parties or their lawyers might consider relevant to the question of disqualification, even if they believe there is no legal basis for disqualification. The rule of necessity may override the rule of disqualification. For example, a judge might he required to participate in judicial review of a judicial salary statute, or might be the only judge available in a matter requiring immediate judicial action, such as a hearing on probable cause or a temporary restraining order. In the latter case, the judge must disclose on the record the basis for possible disqualification and use reasonable efforts to transfer the matter to another judge as soon as possible.

 (a) the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party’s lawyer, or personal knowledge* of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding;

 (b) the judge served as a lawyer in the matter of controversy, or a lawyer with whom the judge previously practiced law served during such association as a lawyer concerning the matter, or the judge has been a material witness concerning it;

Commentary: A lawyer in a government agency does not ordinarily have an association with other lawyers employed by that agency within the meaning of Section 3E(1)(b); judges formerly employed by a governmental agency, however, should disqualify themselves in a proceeding if their impartiality might reasonably be questioned because of such association.

(c) 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, or any other member of the judge’s family residing in the judge’s household*:

(i) is a party to the proceeding, or an officer, director, or trustee of a party;

(ii) is acting as a lawyer in the proceeding;

(iii) is known* by the judge to have a more than de minimis* interest that could be substantially affected by the proceeding;

 (iv) is to the judge’s knowledge* likely to be a material witness in the proceeding.

 Commentary: The fact that a lawyer in a proceeding is affiliated with a law firm with which a relative of the judge is affiliated does not of itself disqualify the judge. Under appropriate circumstances, the fact that “the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned” under Section 3E(1), or that the relative is known by the judge to have an interest in the law firm that could be “substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding” under Section 3E(1)(c)(iii) requires the judge’s disqualification.

(2) Judges shall keep informed about their personal and fiduciary* economic interests*, and make a reasonable effort to keep informed about the personal financial interests of their spouses and minor children residing in their households.

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