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Florida Fourth DCA rules that trial judge erred in refusing to recuse himself in a case involving a party with whom the judge had a family relationship

On August 28, 2019, in Rosales v. Bradshaw, No. 4D19-1082, the Florida Fourth DCA ruled that a trial judge erred in refusing to recuse himself from a case in which the Sheriff of Palm Beach County was a party. The judge had previously recused himself because of a “family relationship” in another case involving the Sheriff. The Fourth DCA relied on and quoted from a Fourth DCA case, Mulligan v. Mulligan, 877 So. 2d 791, 792 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004) which in turn quoted from a Fifth DCA case, Leigh v. Smith, 503 So. 2d 989, 991 (Fla. 5th DCA 1987): “[a]ny time a judge feels it is necessary to recuse himself from an attorney’s case on account of an overriding friendship with the attorney then he should do so in all, not just some of that attorney’s cases.” The Fourth DCA opined that the same principle applies where a judge recuses himself because of his relationship to a defendant, citing Catasus v. Tabone, 19 So. 3d 427 (Fla. 3d DCA 2009) (holding that where the judge recused himself in a related proceeding because of a voluntarily revealed personal relationship with the parties, the judge should have granted a motion for disqualification in the separate case involving the same parties). The Fourth DCA granted the petition for a writ of prohibition and remanded the case for assignment of another trial judge.

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