ugg boots wholesale Two ways to change judge deciding a case
Q: I think the judge in my divorce case is biased against me. Can I get a different judge? If I can’t, I don’t have a chance.
A: It sounds like the judge has done something in the case that makes you think he or she is biased. In that case, you can ask for the judge to be replaced “for cause.”
That request goes to another judge. If judge 2 decides you’ve shown cause to replace judge 1, the case will eventually be assigned to a new judge probably judge 3.
If judge 2 denies your request for a new judge, your case stays with judge 1.
Changing judges is called a “substitution of judge.” It’s sometimes also called a change of venue. That term, however, more precisely applies to a change of location like transferring a case from one county to another.
Substitution for cause is the more difficult way to change judges. It’s more difficult because you have to show cause bias for changing judges. Proving bias takes much more than just showing the judge has decided against you so far.
The other, easier way to change judges is at the very beginning of a case. In that situation, the law says: “Each party shall be entitled to one substitution of judge without cause as a matter of right.”
If you ask before the judge “has ruled on any substantial issue in the case,” your request must be granted, no questions asked.
What’s a substantial ruling that terminates your automatic right to a new judge? One case said although there’s no precise moment when that occurs, it’s when a judge’s “order is relevant to a resolution of the merits of the action.”
That basically means you must ask the first time you’re in court. Or, before a judge newly assigned to the case has done anything.
Judges switch assignments, and take over pending cases, all the time,
for no particular reason. In some counties, for example, judges rotate assignments every July 1.
Once a judge has made some kind of “substantial” ruling in the case, asking for a new judge can look like you just don’t like how things are going.
“Testing the waters,” and then trying to change judicial horses midstream, isn’t allowed.
Unless, of course, you can show cause. Then, a request for a new judge must set forth “the specific cause for substitution.” You don’t have to go into great detail, but you can’t be vague.
If you want to get rid of more than one judge, you then must be especially specific about why. You have to spell out what it is about each judge that makes them unable to be fair.
Persuading a judge that another judge is biased isn’t impossible. But it’s not easy. My quick review of court cases didn’t find any that reversed a judge for denying a request for a new judge “for cause.”
There’s an eternal debate about whether there’s a price to pay for trying to change judges. But, at least in the early stages, it’s your absolute right.
John Roska is a lawyer with Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation. You can send your questions to The Law Q 302 N. First St., Champaign, IL 61820. Questions may be edited for space.