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Professor testifies about recusal

January 1, 2009
A professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington was in Washington, D.C., Thursday to testify before the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommitee on Courts and Competition.

Professor and judicial ethics expert Charles G. Geyh told the committee that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Caperton v. A.T. Massey serves as a wake-up call to state and federal courts to begin taking judicial disqualifications more seriously.

Geyh gave a general outlook on judicial disqualification, noting the challenges in having sitting judges decide for themselves whether they can be impartial on the bench. He suggested the issue could be resolved with reforms, including amending U.S. Code to require that contested disqualification motions be heard by a different judge, and by changing the code to require a recusal only if the financial interest of the judge is "significant enough to call a judge's impartiality into question."

"The problem inherent in judicial disqualification is that judges who are deeply committed to the appearance and reality of impartial justice are called upon to acknowledge, in the context of specific cases, that despite their best efforts to preserve their impartiality, they are either partial or appear to be so," Geyh testified. "That is a hard thing to ask of our judges."
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