American Judges Association



Cynthia Gray

Date of this Version



Court Review - Volume 56


Used by permission.


It It is a judicial ethics truism that judges are not automatically disqualified from cases involving someone they know. However, several recent judicial discipline cases indicate that at least some judges have misinterpreted that to mean that they never have to disclose anything less than a familial relationship with an attorney, much less disqualify if someone they vacation with, for example, appears in a case.1 While blood, marriage, and domestic partnership ties are relatively easy to define, “friendship” is variable and ineffable. Based on caselaw and advisory opinions, a judge should consider the following factors to determine whether a relationship with a particular attorney diverges so significantly from the judge’s relationships with other attorneys that disqualification or at least disclosure is required:2