Friday, December 07, 2007

On matters of excuse and recusal

The big trial scheduled for next week got pushed back because one of the lawyers said he was ill. If he said he was ill, I'm taking his word for it.

In the big hearing in another case yesterday, we learned when we got there who the judge would be, and - it was the same judge who had the same case in the earlier filed version, before the non-suit. Is that surprising?

I had done some research on the point:

"Some courts, state and federal, have explicit rules regarding the reassignment of refiled cases to the judge who had the first case between the same parties regarding the same subject matter. See, e.g., Local Rule 40.3, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (“When a case is dismissed with prejudice or without, and a second case is filed involving the same parties and relating to the same subject matter, the second case shall be assigned to the judge to whom the first case was assigned.”); Rule 3.2, Georgia Uniform Rules of the Superior Court (“When practical, all actions involving substantially the same parties, or substantially the same subject matter, or substantially the same factual issues, whether pending simultaneously or not, shall be assigned to the same judge. Whenever such action is refiled, . . . such actions shall be assigned to the judge to whom the original action was or is assigned.”). Local rules of this kind “exist for the purpose of governing the flow of work in the district court as sensibly and efficiently as possible.” U.S. v. Dichiarinte, 385 F.2d 333, 337 (7th Cir. 1967). Even without local rules, courts have recognized their inherent authority to limit the ability of a litigant to draw a different judge just by taking a voluntary dismissal. See, e.g., Vaqueria Tres Monjitas, Inc. v. Rivera Cubano, 341 F. Supp.2d 69, 72 (D.P.R. 2004) (citing cases in support of the Court’s power “to act to preserve the integrity and control of its docket”) (cited with approval in Wilson v. Com., 46 Va. App. 408, 442, 617 S.E.2d 431, 447 (2005) (Kelsey, J., concurring))."

And, I got a ruling today from the Southern District of West Virginia. Rooting around on their website, I noticed that the judges there have posted a recusal list. How odd, and yet how reasonable.

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