Is the Judge Biased Against Me? / by Cassandra Hearn

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Divorce and custody cases involve a highly personal look into your family and how it functions on a day-to-day basis. Having relative strangers such as lawyers, court reporters, and a judge strictly scrutinize your life and your decisions can feel highly intrusive and unpleasant. During the case and the trial, it can sometimes feel like although you are allowing a clear and honest look into your life, the judge is always ruling against you. This may cause you to wonder if the judge is biased against you. In the vast majority of cases, judges are ruling impartially. Just because you may not have been successful in your request for custody or other divorce pleading, this does not automatically mean that a judge has true bias against you. Judicial bias is where a judge shows favoritism for one side or the other, either through actions or statements. The California code of judicial ethics provides that judges may not show bias or partiality for either party.

Despite the rules forbidding it, there are some rare instances where a judge will be either consciously or unconsciously biased against one party. Judges may show a bias toward local attorneys, as they may feel more comfortable with attorneys who practice in front of them regularly. Another way a judge may be biased is if he or she has outside knowledge of facts in dispute in a case. This could be especially common in smaller communities where a judge may have known the litigants and their families outside the courtroom. In some instances, the bias may arise from the issues themselves. For example, some judges may harbor a prejudice against granting equal physical custody.

If the judge is showing inappropriate bias and partiality toward one party, there is a specific procedure to request that a judge be removed from the case. Your attorney could file a motion asking that the judge recuse him or herself from the case and a different judge take over. This procedure is typically used very sparingly, as it is a serious accusation to make that the judge is not able to fairly hear and rule on the issues in the case.

If you believe a judge is biased against you, or favors the other side, you need the help of an experienced attorney. Contact us today at 619-800-0384 to discuss your case and what we can do to help you.