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Juliana, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 1651
Experience:  23 years of legal experience, former child support attorney, currently practicing family law
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If I worked with a law firm a few years ago, and a probate

Resolved Question:

If I worked with a law firm a few years ago, and a probate Judge is assigned to my case who was once a partner with that firm, can I ask that she recuse herself?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Juliana replied 6 years ago.



Thanks for your question.


Yes, you can ask that this judge recuse herself from your case. It seems as though this situation could present a conflict of interest, due to the fact that you and the judge have both been employed by the same law firm. At the very least, it would present an appearance of impropriety. If this is called to the judge's attention, I think she will likely agree to step down from your case.


Hope this helps.


Juliana and 3 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Oops///sorry. I am not a lawyer. I was a client of the law firm and they did work related directly to this matter (bankruptcy in the middle of a divorce which is now before the judge.) They also set up a 501c3 that my ex- and I were both board members of. Again, this was after she left the firm. What do you think?
Expert:  Juliana replied 6 years ago.

Sorry, I misunderstood you. I saw the word "work" in your previous post, and assumed it meant "employment."


I still see this as being a conflict of interest, or at least the situation gives an appearance of impropriety (which is not as "offensive" as a conflict of interest, but still undesirable). If the judge worked for that firm while your case was going on, then she shouldn't be hearing your case now. My opinion is that you should ask the judge to recuse herself.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Sorry, I am still not being clear. She worked for firm X, and left in 2001 to become a Judge. In 2006 I hired firm X to do work for my ex and me setting up a 501c3 and later to handle financial matters resulting from the divorce. It was not part of this case but was a tough litigation with my ex that forced my company into bankruptcy (2006-2007). Arguably, my file is still open there although I haven't worked with them for four years. In 2010 our probate child custody case landed in front of her and she has been wicked; ex parte hearings and draconian orders without reason. She clearly has an attitude. How do I ask and what do you think of my chances of getting her off the case?
Expert:  Juliana replied 6 years ago.

Well, you can certainly ask that she recuse herself, but in light of your additional information, I'm not 100% sure there is a conflict of interest (or an appearance of impropriety) if she left the firm in 2001 and your involvement with the firm didn't start until 2006.


You would need to file a motion to recuse, setting forth all the background of your contact with this firm, and her employment with it -- basically, all the reasons why you feel she should recuse herself. If she doesn't recuse herself (the decision is hers), you can appeal this issue later, if you so choose.


Again, you can ask, but whether or not there are grounds for recusal seems somewhat iffy, in my honest opinion, since she left that firm before your case started.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Sorry to clarify but if the firm were actively involved with the case, even preparing materials for presentation in Court that involved financials, etc. would that matter? What if I hired them to represent me before her? That's all Thanks!
Expert:  Juliana replied 6 years ago.

A judge isn't precluded from hearing a case involving a litigant that is being represented by a firm for which she last worked eleven years ago. If she was involved in the case when she worked for the firm, or possibly even if the case was floating around then firm from one lawyer to another when she worked there, that would be a different story.


If this firm doesn't represent you now, even if you were to hire them now, it wouldn't knock them off the case for the abovementioned reasons. For example, I practiced law in a small town in Ohio for a number of years. All of the judges in that county had practiced in law firms within the county before they became judges. Their former law partners routinely had cases before them. These judges did not recuse themselves whenever one of their former law partners had a case in their court. Recusal would only happen if they had been involved in a particular case, as an attorney in that firm, that later came before them in court.


Again, you can certainly ask the judge to recuse herself (you don't lose anything by asking), but again, I'm not totally convinced that recusal would be appropriate.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you.
Expert:  Juliana replied 6 years ago.
Thank you! If you're satisfied with my answer(s) please click "accept." And, good luck with your case.