Bennett v. Chenault
Rule 2.11(a)(2)(A) of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides, "[A] judge shall disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned including but not limited to the following circumstances . . . [t]he judge knows that the judge . . . or a person within the third degree of relationship to [the judge] is: (A) party to the proceeding." During preliminary discussions about hearing and trial schedules, Judge Robin Wilson informed counsel that although she was never "close" to the defendant, she could be considered distantly related to the defendant, because the judge's grandmother and the defendant's stepfather's mother were sisters. The plaintiff moved to disqualify Judge Wilson on the grounds of judicial bias. Judge Wilson wrote, "[T]he court is not a blood relative of the defendant, and the defendant and the court are not within the third degree of consanguinity vis-a-vis each other." Judge Wilson also observed that she was not familiar with the real property that is the subject of the suit. The plaintiff failed to establish a conflict of interest or that there is any appearance of impropriety, as a result of the judge's distant relationship to the defendant. The court denied the plaintiff's motion to disqualify.