2d Circuit Rejects Gov't Recusal Request
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.
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