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  1. #1
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    Default Can a Judge Rule on Something in Civil Court if He Knows the Defendant

    My question involves court procedures for the state of:

    A case recently came to light in civil court where the judge had previously worked and known the defendant through personal connections. The judge wasn't presiding over the actual case but approved a court date set forward by the Plaintiffs. The defendant came forward and countered they knew the judge in question and claimed it was a conflict of interest for the judge to rule on the scheduling date by this particular judge.

    If a judge knows the defendant and rules on something related to the case, could this be considered a conflict of interest?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Can a Judge Rule on Something in Civil Court if He Knows the Defendant

    If a judge knows the defendant and rules on something related to the case, could this be considered a conflict of interest?
    It could be but it isn't necessarily so. Do you expect judges to live in caves and never come out unless they are attending to court business? Judges typically know a lot of people.

    a judge setting a date isn't a problem unless one of the parties can show it was done to intentionally cause a conflict of some sort. Heck, a good portion of the time the clerk is who sets dates.

    What the defendant did was proper. He was simply making it known to the plaintiff that he knew the judge in some way the defendant thought it might be an issue. It would be up to the plaintiff to object to the judges action at that point if they had a problem with it.

    What I would have expected the judge to do was ask the plaintiff if he had a problem with what the judge ordered. If the plaintiff didn't, then there is no problem.


    If the plaintiff had a problem with it, what did the judge do?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Can a Judge Rule on Something in Civil Court if He Knows the Defendant

    Thanks for the reply, I do agree the judge can't possibly avoid the rest of the world when it comes to being an actual human being.

    Would it matter if the judge confirmed it wasn't a conflict of interest and lied about not knowing the defendant?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Can a Judge Rule on Something in Civil Court if He Knows the Defendant

    Quote Quoting mattkemp1982
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    Would it matter if the judge confirmed it wasn't a conflict of interest and lied about not knowing the defendant?
    you mean lied about knowing the defendant, right?

    it might. A judge could state they believed there was no conflict of interest. It would be up to the plaintiff to raise the issue and show why the judge should not be involved in the situation, even to the level of scheduling some future court date.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Can a Judge Rule on Something in Civil Court if He Knows the Defendant

    Yes, if the judge lied about knowing the defendant.

    What if the defendant objects to this though? I mean, if the defendant declares a conflict of interest because it was the right thing to do and the judge still lies and says they don't know the defendant, wouldn't the defendant have a little bit of concern or grounds that something isn't quite right? A conflict of interest should be enough to send it to another judge, right?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Can a Judge Rule on Something in Civil Court if He Knows the Defendant

    I'm missing something here. What problem would the defendant have in this issue? A judge is not required to recuse themselves if they do not believe their is justification to do so. Either party can challenge that decision and if they can show justification that the judge should be removed from the case, then the court hearing the action can do that.


    A conflict of interest should be enough to send it to another judge, right?
    you already said this judge isn't even hearing the case. It is going to another judge so what is the problem?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Can a Judge Rule on Something in Civil Court if He Knows the Defendant

    If you believe that the judge set a date which is to your disadvantage because he knew the other party, you could object and file a motion asking the judge to recuse himself, and for a new date to be set. If your court has a "head" judge as most do, I'd file it directly with her.

    Your motion would likely be granted to avoid any appearance of wrongdoing by the court.

    But as already said, what did it hurt? What benefit would arise from objecting? You could get known as a complainer, and then when you file a really important motion or complaint, get ignored.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Can a Judge Rule on Something in Civil Court if He Knows the Defendant

    You didn't identify the state - what U.S. state are we talking about?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Can a Judge Rule on Something in Civil Court if He Knows the Defendant

    New York state

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Can a Judge Rule on Something in Civil Court if He Knows the Defendant

    if the judge did not excuse himself then its more likely than not that there is no conflict..just knowing someone is not enough .. are they in business together today? then thats something.

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