The following rule is designed to give guidance to parties and attorneys regarding the potential disqualification of a judge in a case involving the children and/or spouse of the judge. For purposes of this rule, the term “spouse” includes a person other than a spouse who maintains both a household and intimate relationship with the judge or child.
A judge of the court will be disqualified if the judge’s spouse, child, or a spouse of a child is:
(a) a party in a case;
(b) likely to be a material witness in a case (to the judge’s knowledge);
(c) an attorney involved in the case; or
(d) has an ownership interest in a law firm to come before the court.
In other situations involving a judge’s spouse, child or child’s spouse, a judge is not deemed subject to a conflict of interest and will not recuse unless additional aggravating factors warranting recusal are present. Mere employment of a spouse, child, or child’s spouse by a law firm does not mandate that the judge per se recuse from every matter in which the law firm is involved. For example, the court would expect law firms to take reasonable steps to “wall off” any judge’s spouse, child or child’s spouse from working on or being privy to information about any cases pending before that judge for additional protection from a conflict. Additional aggravating factors and/or other relatives who might present potential conflicts will be individually considered pursuant to the applicable canons, advisory opinions and case law.
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