Judicial Disqualification in New Jersey
New Jersey courts which have been called upon to decide judicial disqualification motions have occasionally adverted to Canon 3(C) of the New Jersey Code of Judicial Conduct. Generally speaking, however, the subject of disqualification is governed both by a court rule, 1:12-1 et seq., which affords comprehensive treatment to the subject; and by a statute, N.J. Stat. Ann. §2A:15-49. These provisions are not perfectly consistent. For this reason, and because statutes such as §2A:15-49 are considered in light of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s constitutional authority to administer the courts of New Jersey, it would appear that Rule 1:12-1, rather than §2A:15-49, provides the applicable New Jersey judicial disqualification standard.
Whereas Rule 1:12-2 deals with disqualification on a party’s motion, Rule 1:12-1 sets forth general standards for disqualifying a judge. By way of example, Rule 1:12 1(e) and (f) mandate disqualification if the challenged judge is interested in an action or “there is any other reason which might preclude a fair and unbiased hearing and judgment, or which might reasonably lead counsel or the parties to believe so.”
1. For a New Jersey “CLE” website which has materials discussing the subject of judicial disqualification in New Jersey and also contains some forms click here.
2. For a recent (Oct. 2013) Legal Intelligencer article describing a case where a New Jersey family court judge recused after referring to Italian-American litigants as “tomatoes” click here.
3. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey provides online instructions for moving to recuse a bankruptcy court judge click here.
4. For a 2013 Lexis-Nexis article discussing an attempt to disqualify the judge presiding over New Jersey’s Accutane litigation click here. For a blog discussing the judge’s denial of that motion click here.
5. For an overview of recusal and disqualification law in New Jersey which is updated annually see Flamm, R., Judicial Disqualification: Recusal and Disqualification of Judges, § 28.32. See also In re Mercedes Benz Antitrust Litigation, 226 F.Supp.2d 552 (D.N.J. 2002), citing the first edition of Judicial Disqualification. To locate New Jersey libraries that have the current edition of Judicial Disqualification in their collections click here