The Supreme Court Revamps Judicial Disqualification: What Every Litigant Needs to Know

Wednesday, July 08, 2009
5:00 AM-5:00 AM

On July 8, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its long-awaited decision in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. – the so-called “West Virginia recusal case.” By a narrow 5-4 margin, the Court held that the Due Process Clause required a state judge to recuse himself from a case involving an individual who had made expenditures in support of the judge’s election campaign. The contours of this new constitutional recusal rule remain very vague, and the Court’s decision is likely to launch a new wave of disqualification motions in both state and federal courts.Clients and their counsel need to be prepared.