Judicial Disqualification Resource Center



 What is Judicial Disqualification?  What is Judicial Recusal?

Judges often must decide whether they can properly preside over a matter, or if they should decline to do so, which is commonly called “recusing” themselves.  If a judge does not recuse, but a party thinks she ought to, that party will often move to “disqualify” that judge.  Technically, “recusal” refers to the act by which a judge recuses herself, whereas “disqualification” refers to the removal of a judge on a party’s motion, but many judges have used the terms “recusal” and “disqualification” interchangeably. 

The field of law which deals with matters pertaining to whether judges should recuse or be disqualified is sometimes referred to as “recusal law,” but is more commonly known as “judicial disqualification.”


See, e.g., Ozanne v. Fitzgerald, 2012 WI 82  (Wis. 2012), Abrahamson, C.J.

“Some note a distinction between the words “recusal” and “disqualification,”, citing Richard E. Flamm, Judicial Disqualification: Recusal and Disqualification of Judges § 1.1 at 3 (2d ed. 2007).

(“Whereas ‘recusal’ normally refers to a judge’s decision to stand down voluntarily, ‘disqualification’ has typically been reserved for situations involving the statutorily or constitutionally mandated removal of a judge upon the request of a moving party or its counsel”). To locate libraries near you that have Judicial Disqualification in their collection click here