Recusal & Disqualification of Judges in Oklahoma
Judicial disqualification is controlled by a statutory provision, 20 Okla. Stat. §1401, which enumerates the specific circumstances that warrant relief. For example, under §1401(c) a judge may be disqualified when a party is able to show that he is biased. A judge is also prohibited from sitting in a contested matter when he is related to any attorney of record within the third degree.
Before an Oklahoma judge will be disqualified, however, strict compliance with §1403 will ordinarily be required. Section 1401 appears to be Oklahoma’s only disqualification statute. But an Oklahoma constitutional provision, Okla. Const. art. II, §6, is intended to ensure that every person charged with a crime in Oklahoma receives a trial before a judge who does not possess personal bias against him. To avail himself of this provision, a defendant must show that the judge harbored bias against him that materially affected his rights. Oklahoma has also adopted the Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires a judge to disqualify himself whenever his impartiality might reasonably be questioned, as long as the moving party follows the procedure set forth in 12 Okla. Stat. §1991 ch.2, app. 1, rule 15. That provision obliges the movant to speak first with the judge, then file a motion, then re-present his motion to the chief judge of the county if the motion is denied.
1. For an Oklahoma Bar Association abstract on Judicial Disqualification in Oklahoma (originally published in Nov. 2010) click here
2. To review a 2011 Motion to Recuse an Oklahoma District Judge filed by the State of Oklahoma, which contains a brief discussion of Oklahoma law on recusal and disqualification click here
3. For an overview of recusal and disqualification law in Oklahoma which is updated annually see Flamm, R., Judicial Disqualification: Recusal and Disqualification of Judges, § 28.38. To locate Oklahoma libraries that have the current edition of Judicial Disqualification click here
4. To review two vintage Oklahoma recusal cases (one from 2000 and the other from 2004) click here