Posted by: Patricia Salkin | July 30, 2012

LA Supreme Court Finds Recusal of Judge Warranted Where Judge Had Interest Owner of Adjacent Property at Issue

Plaintiff moved to recuse one of the judges on the court of appeal that heard its case. The issue in the case was whether a property along a thoroughfare, currently zoned as residential, could be occupied commercially because of a “permanent injunction secured by the landowner’s ancestor in title preventing the defendant Parish of Jefferson from enforcing the zoning regulation.” The district court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, and the court of appeal reversed. On an application for rehearing, the plaintiff moved for recusal of one of the judges because it had discovered a basis for recusal and alleged the judge to be “biased, prejudiced, or interested in the case or its outcome to such an extent that the judge would be unable to conduct fair and impartial proceedings.” The plaintiff alleged that the judge had an interest in the corporation that was the lessee of the commercial property adjacent to the property in question. This placed the company in competition with the plaintiff, and thus the judge had an economic interest in the subject matter of the case. The Court held that “certainly, neighboring landowners and lessees would logically have an interest in the case and its outcome,” therefore “the judge’s recusal was warranted.” The Court transferred the case to be heard again by the Court of Appeal.

Tolmas v. Parish of Jefferson, 87 So.3d 855, 2012-0555 (La. 4/27/2012)


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