2d Circuit Rejects Gov't Recusal Request

by TChris

Lawyers rarely ask a federal judge to recuse himself or herself on the ground that the judge appears to be prejudiced. The judge will almost always say no, and the lawyer worries for the rest of the case (or career) that the judge's offense at being accused of prejudice against the client will result in even more prejudice against the lawyer. That is often not a risk worth taking.

Federal prosecutors took that risk when they sought the recusal of Judge Shira Scheindlin, who has presided in the perjury case against Osama Awadallah. The Second Circuit yesterday rejected their claim that Judge Scheindlin's remarks demonstrated an appearance of partiality in favor of Awadallah.

During oral arguments in December, prosecutors cited a 2004 article written by Scheindlin for a legal publication in which she said it was the duty of judges to protect individual rights in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. They argued such public statements and pretrial rulings in Awadallah's favor had created an appearance of injustice in the case.

All judges have a duty to uphold the Constitution, and the Constitution protects individual rights. Recognizing that duty shouldn't be controversial, but prosecutors were apparently stunned to believe a judge would favor the Constitution rather than the prosecution. As a result of the Second Circuit decision, the case against Awadallah will continue in Judge Scheindlin's court.

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    Re: 2d Circuit Rejects Gov't Recusal Request (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 11:56:58 AM EST
    Yes, but Shira Scheindlin is clearly Jewish and clearly the prosecutors must have been counting on her and were offended when she didn't come through for them. Come on, she completely violated their expectations and had to pay the price.

    Re: 2d Circuit Rejects Gov't Recusal Request (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 01:07:12 PM EST
    This is not the first attempt to push Scheindlin out. Defendants in a huge securities fraud class case moved to recuse her a few years ago, and when she refused, sought mandamus. Why is it that when criminal defendants or civil plaintiffs draw a conservative judge, they accept the luck of the draw, but litigants who want a conservative but draw a judge with respect for plaintiffs and criminal defendants, wehn they draw Scheindlin, they try to get her tossed? Scheindlin in an outstanding judge, BTW, and she won the Weinfeld award from the New York County bar last year.