Domnin v. Domnina
5/24/23, Judge Gerber
Topics: Disqualification or Recusal of Judge; Writ of Prohibition
In this family law case, the trial court burned through the time for one hearing and then a second hearing. What took so long? Well, there were the husband’s trial counsel’s arguments at the hearing’s outset on whether and how a foreign judgment affected the circuit court’s consideration of the wife’s motion; detailed witness examinations during the wife’s case-in-chief by both the wife’s trial counsel and the husband’s trial counsel; and the difficulties inherent in conducting a Zoom hearing requiring interpreters.
At the end of the second hearing, the judge asked both parties for written closing arguments, but the husband’s attorney objected, noting that only the wife’s case-in-chief had been presented and that he had not been permitted to present his own case-in-chief. The judge essentially stated the hearing that gone on long enough. The judge later issued an order holding for the wife. Two days later, the husband filed a motion to disqualify the judge for ruling without allowing him to present his case. The judge denied the motion. The husband filed a petition for a writ of prohibition, and the DCA granted the writ, finding that while the judge’s frustration was understandable, not being allowed to present one’s case-in-chief before a ruling was sufficient basis to give a reasonably prudent person a fear of not receiving a fair hearing.