Brewer v. Hughes

Brewer v. Hughes

3d DCA, 3/6/24

No. 3D23-2138, 2024 WL 949172

Per Curiam (Lindsey, Gordo, and Lobree)

Topics: Disqualification/Recusal of Judge; Writ of Prohibition

It is well-established that judges may not comment on the merits or otherwise look outside the allegations of bias or prejudice when reviewing an initial motion to disqualify. In evaluating an initial motion for disqualification, the judge can only determine if the motion is legally sufficient.

Here, after receiving the motion to disqualify, the judge sought and obtained an opinion from the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee (“JEAC”) to guide his decision. The JEAC opinion contained underlying material facts (as provided by the inquiring judge) that contradicted allegations contained in the motions to disqualify. By referencing this particular JEAC opinion in a footnote, the trial judge implicitly relied on these facts in denying the motions to disqualify, which violates the rule of commenting on the truth of the allegations. PETITION GRANTED.

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