One of the benefits of the U.S. legal system is that those accused of a
crime are entitled to the fairest trial possible. There are number of
steps that work to ensure this right, from the law enforcement that makes
an arrest to the judge that is presiding over the case. What many people
may not realize is that if a judge in the case is not the best option,
the judge can be removed from trying the crime.
Removing Biased Judges in Criminal Cases
Any judge on a case is supposed to be fair and unbiased towards the outcome.
If the judge is unable to maintain fairness, anyone on trial is entitled
to a new judge to hear their case. It is called a recusal when a judge
is removed from a trial in favor of a new one.
Some of the ways a judge can be recused is:
- Conflict of interest
- Unfair participation
- Substantial financial interest
- Prior representation of an interested party
- Relative of the judge acting as a lawyer in the case
A judge can be recused based on objections from any party in the case or
they can disqualify themselves from standing on the case. However, just
because a judge can be removed from a case doesn't mean they will
be removed. Unless there is a personal connection between the judge and
the case, they will not be removed from the court. Their political or
philosophical leanings are not enough to force their removal since it
is assumed that their training allows them to disregard their feelings.
If someone is seeking the recusal of a judge, it must be done before the
judge has made a sentencing. Waiting until the sentence has been made
can be seen as a waiver of disqualification of the judge, which cannot
be considered when making an appeal.
As part of ensuring the fairness of your trail, a skilled criminal defense
attorney will take the time to determine whether or not the presiding
judge has any biases in the case. When they do, you have a right to ask
for a new judge to try your case to ensure the fairest trial.