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Disqualifying the trial judge

Posted by John P. Rutkowski | Dec 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

Darien Hauter appeals two orders entered on the same day in two cases. The first order denied Hauter's motion to disqualify the trial judge as "legally insufficient." The second order, filed fifteen minutes later, denied Hauter's motion to mitigate his sentences. Hauter stated in his affidavit in support of his motion certain specific facts showing that prior to his presentation of any evidence or argument at his sentencing hearing for a downward departure sentence, the judge had made comments that indicated he had predetermined that Hauter would receive lengthy prison sentences. Such comments provided Hauter with a well-founded fear that he would not receive a fair sentencing before the judge Under the circumstances, because the trial judge should have disqualified himself prior to ruling on Hauter's motion to mitigate sentences, we vacate the orders. Once an order disqualifying a judge is entered, the judge is prohibited from any further participation in the case.

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About the Author

John P. Rutkowski

Mr. Rutkowski has been practicing law for the past twenty-seven years. Prior to going to law school Mr. Rutkowski served as a deputy sheriff before retiring to attend law school. Upon graduating law school Mr. Rutkowski served as an Assistant State Attorney in Florida before going in to private practice and representing good people in bad times who have been accused of criminal offenses.

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