For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4 - 33

Navigating the Requirements for
Judicial Recusal in Pennsylvania
Jaskirat " Kira " Chhatwal
udicial recusal is a process by which judges are
disqualified from a case for a reason that renders
them unable to appear impartial. Currently,
forty-five states and the District of Columbia have
adopted the American Bar Association's Model
Code of Judicial Conduct (the " Code " ), either
verbatim or in a substantially similar format.1
Prior to the laws and statutes promulgated by the
legislature, judicial recusal was a creature shaped
by common law.
Federal and State Cases: Seminal Decisions that
Shaped the Landscape
One of the seminal U.S. Supreme Court cases
on judicial recusal was decided in 1927.2
During
Prohibition in the United States, there was statute
in Ohio that
stated alleged violations of the
Prohibition Act would be tried by the mayor of
J
the village. In addition to his regular salary, the
mayor received fees in each case that he heard.
The caveat was that the mayor would only receive
those fees paid by a defendant if he was convicted.
Naturally, the mayor's supplemental income was
directly related to the outcome of the trials that
were entirely decided by the mayor, himself. The
U.S. Supreme Court was faced with the question of
whether the mayor's actions and the compensation
offered to him in the state statute deprived the
accused of due process, violating the individual's
Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court held
that the Due Process Clause incorporated the
common-law rule that a judge must recuse himself
when he has a " direct, personal, substantial
pecuniary interest in reaching a conclusion against
[the defendant] in his case. " The Court went on
to find that the system in Ohio could only be
consistent with due process if the fees typically
Vol. 6, Issue 4 l For The Defense 33

For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4

Contents
For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4 - 1
For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4 - 2
For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4 - Contents
For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4 - 4
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