Before the AJ was appointed in her position, a modification case between a mother and father had already begun. PPC has been following the case for a couple of years and ‘politics’ has been an issue. The father is a Fort Worth police officer and Republican candidates in the 2014 local elections made phone calls on the father’s behalf earlier this year. After the coercive calls, the new AJ was appointed to the bench. Her husband works for the Fort Worth Police Department, just like the father in this case.
This month the parents scheduled a hearing before the AJ. The mother walked into the courtroom and witnessed the judge and police officer father speaking up at the bench without her. Both parents do not have attorneys so this conversation could be classified as an ‘ex parte’ meeting. When the mother asked if they started without her, the response from the AJ was she wasn’t sure if she would come or not. The mother has attended all hearings in the past.
Do you think the AJ’s spouse working for the same department as one of her litigants is a conflict of interest?
Grounds for Recusal in Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 18b
Grounds for Recusal. A judge must recuse in any proceeding in which:
(1) the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned;
(2) the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning the subject matter or a party;
(3) the judge has personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding;
(4) the judge or a lawyer with whom the judge previously practiced law has been a material
witness concerning the proceeding;
(5) the judge participated as counsel, adviser, or material witness in the matter in controversy, or expressed an opinion concerning the merits of it, while acting as an attorney in government service;
(6) the judge knows that the judge, individually or as a fiduciary, or the judge’s spouse or minor
child residing in the judge’s household, has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding, or any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding;
(7) the judge or the judge’s spouse, or a person within the third degree of relationship to either of them, or the spouse of such a person:
(A) is a party to the proceeding or an officer, director, or trustee of a party;
(B) is known by the judge to have an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding; or
(C) is to the judge’s knowledge likely to be a material witness in the proceeding.
(8) the judge or the judge’s spouse, or a person within the first degree of relationship to either of
them, or the spouse of such a person, is acting as a lawyer in the proceeding.