Judicial Disqualification Resource Center


Judicial Bias & Disqualification in Hawaii

Ted Bigham

Ted Bigham

There are three accepted bases for seeking to disqualify a judge in Hawai’i: Haw. Rev. Stat. §601-7, the Hawai’i Code of Judicial Conduct, and relevant case law. §601-7 prescribes disqualification for relationship, pecuniary interest, or where the judge was previously “of counsel” in the matter now pending before him. The statute also permits parties to seek disqualification on the basis of personal judicial bias. The procedure for seeking disqualification for bias is spelled out in HRS § 601 7(b), which states that the movant must file a legally sufficient affidavit containing allegations of personal judicial bias, as well as facts from which a reasonable mind could fairly infer bias, either against the movant or in favor of the opposing party. The decision as to whether a judge should be disqualified on bias grounds is one that is discretionary with the challenged judge.

Hawai’i judges are enjoined to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. In fact, Hawai’i courts tend to take very seriously the admonition that a judge should disqualify herself in any proceeding in which her impartiality might reasonably be questioned.



1. In 2006 the local Hawai’I chapter of the American Judicature Society performed a survey of recusal and disqualification law in Hawai’i. Click here to see their report

2. In 2013 the Hawai’I Supreme Court sought Public Comment regarding a proposal to amend that state’s recusal and disqualification statutes:

3. For an analysis of recusal and disqualification law in the state of Hawai’i which is updated annually see Flamm, R., Judicial Disqualification: Recusal and Disqualification of Judges (Second Edition, 2007)/ See also Hawai’i Commission on Judicial Conduct 19th Annual Report citing R. Flamm, Judicial Disqualification. To locate Hawaiian libraries that have the current edition of this book click here