Selected Family Law Appellate Update for week ending 9/29/17

FelixBaseman
FelixBaseman

Lukacs v. Ice (First DCA)

The trial judge in this paternity case had also presided over the father’s recent divorce.  While hearing evidence relating to the father’s propensity for violence, the judge referenced similar accusations in the father’s discover case.  The father argued that the judge should have been disqualified as a result thereof.  The Fifth DCA disagreed.

First, the District Court noted that the father’s motion was untimely and therefore procedurally inadequate.  It went on, however, to address the merits of the father’s assertions, holding that the judge’s negative comments about the father in this case were not grounds for disqualification because they related to the matters in front of the judge at the time.  The District Court observed that where a judge makes negative comments about a litigant while hearing an unrelated issue, such comments may require disqualification.  Here, however, the judge’s comments were relevant to the issue at hand and therefore the disqualification motion was properly denied.