Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hey, the judge is marrying the opposing party!

"Marrying" as in officiating at the wedding of your litigational adversary. Is that grounds for disqualification? What if it's a divorce case and the judge is going to perform the marriage of your ex? Apparently, that's not enough in today's published opinion here:
After considering the particular facts before us and applicable law, we determine
Commissioner Ratekin's conduct was not a disqualifying event. Under circumstances
similar to those here, the California Supreme Court found no appearance of partiality
where a trial judge officiated at the wedding of the prosecutor's daughter several months
before the judge presided over the defendant's death penalty trial. (People v. Carter
(2005) 36 Cal.4th 1215, 1240-1244.) Following Carter, we conclude that when a judge has no personal or social relationship with the attorney and the judge's only role at the wedding is that of an officiant, disclosure is required (Cal. Code Jud. Ethics, canon 3(E)(2)(a)), but disqualification is not mandated absent additional facts.