Disqualifying Judge with Bias – Kansas
In Kansas, relief from the judgment of an allegedly biased judge is occasionally sought pursuant to Canon 3 of the Kansas Code of Judicial Conduct. Ordinarily, however, the procedure for disqualifying Kansas judges for bias or interest is prescribed by Kansas Stat. Ann. §20-311d. Pursuant to that statute, when a party files an affidavit alleging that he cannot obtain a fair trial because of the personal bias or interest of a sitting judge, and supports such allegations with specific reasons, the court must either disqualify itself or immediately assign the matter to another judge for a determination as to the affidavit’s sufficiency.
In Kansas, the mere filing of a motion for a change of judge does not, in and of itself, mandate either disqualification of the assigned judge or transfer of the motion for consideration by another judge. Rather, it is the filing of the supporting affidavit that triggers the judge’s obligation to disqualify or transfer. Once a motion for change of judge has been transferred to another judge, legal sufficiency is determined under §20-311d.
1. For a recent Kansas Defenders article discussing a 2013 case, State v. Sawyer, in which the Kansas Supreme Court held that the trial judge was required to recuse himself from the case, and that the judge’s failure to do so violated Sawyer’s due process rights under the U.S. Constitution click here
2. For an analysis of Kansas recusal and disqualification law which is updated annually see Flamm, R., Judicial Disqualification: Recusal and Disqualification of Judges (Second Edition, 2007), See also former Kansas Attorney General Philip D. Kline’s Motion for Recusal of Supreme Court Justices Beier and Nuss in a high-profile case which contains (beginning on page 56) a lengthy survey of “Kansas Law on Recusal,” citing to Richard E. Flamm, Judicial Disqualification. To locate libraries in Kansas that have the current edition of this book click here