Can a federal judge hear a case in which a colleague is a witness in the case?

Asked on October 22, 2014 under Personal Injury, Delaware


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Under judicial ethical rules, a judge should recuse him- or herself (i.e. step down from the case) if his/her neutrality and impartiality is suspect. So it is possible that, depending the relationship, context, and role of this witness, that the judge's imparitiality could be compromised (much depends on the facts: it's a very different thing if a close colleague is a material or important witness, vs. if someone who is technically a "colleague" but with whom the judge does not work has to testify about an uncontested, trivial, or technical point). If so, there may be grounds for an appeal.

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