How to Change Judges in a Hearing
A judge is meant to be a fair and impartial party in any hearing, even if the case will be decided by a jury. But if the judge is biased you may want to consider making a change.
In most cases there shouldn't be any problems. Judges are trained to look at both sides and not be swayed by anything other than the facts. Most judges are fair and while they may not be friendly, they do a good job of deciding cases based on the merits rather than the personalities of the parties.
But in that small number of cases, having a biased judge can change everything. If that happens to you, it's important to know how to deal with it.
The first resource you should go to about the judge is your attorney. Judges are often gruff and they often speak in legalese and look annoyed when normal people don't know what they're talking about. It's easy to mistake that for unfair treatment.
In most cases that isn't what's happening. Talking to your lawyer can give a more objective evaluation of how the judge seems to view the case.
If you both agree the judge is treating your case unfairly, there are ways to bring it up. If the problem is equal time to represent your case, have your attorney ask the judge for more time to speak.
Sometimes addressing the issue with the judge can resolve everything. But if that's not the case you need to ask the judge to recuse themselves.
For a judge to be recused there must be evidence of bias in the way the decision is made. Some judges may agree to the change just because you asked but others may be unwilling to leave unless you can prove bias.
Bias is more than your gut feeling that the judge is favoring the other party. You have to show specific examples, such as giving one party more time or making disparaging comments about one of the parties.
Take notes of times you think the judge is showing favoritism so you can include them in your request.
Asking the judge to leave because you think they're biased doesn't always work. But once you make the request it becomes part of the record. On appeal you can bring it up again and maybe have another judge look it over. If nothing else, it gives you a reason to appeal.
- Zimmerman seeks new judge in murder trial (Reuters)
- No Retroactive Recusal for Stripper-Patronizing Judge (FindLaw's U.S. Eleventh Circuit)
- Judge Removed from Case for Bias, 3rd Circuit Appoints New Judge (FindLaw's U.S. Third Circuit)
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.