Lawyers Impugning Judges

This question is tangentially related to the Trayvon Martin case, but is not about that case. But the details of that case are what triggered my question.

George Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, filed a motion asking the judge to disqualify himself. He did not allege that the judge had some relationship with anyone involved, but simply that the judge had some animosity towards GZ. ISTM that this amounts to basically impugning the judge’s integrity. I was therefore not at all surprised that the judge rejected this motion. (I would guess that O’Mara knew this would happen and was preserving grounds for appeal.)

Now within this particular case, O’Mara felt that this motion was advantagious to his case. But what about other clients of his who might appear before this same judge? Is it possible that this judge will be insulted by the suggestion and will henceforth have antipathy for O’Mara which will impact his rulings in cases for other clients?

Essentially, that’s the question: in general, are judges - being human and all - insulted by motions filed by lawyers which seem to impugn ther integrity, and does this spill over to other cases?

And if so, does this possibility inhibit lawyers from filing motions of this sort?

It does indeed inhibit lawyers from filing such motions. Word gets around the courthouse about those louse lawyers too. Some judges do not take it personally, none let on that they do. But some of them certainly do.

California lets each party to a case automatically bump an assigned judge within 10 days or before a hearing, whichever is first, whom they think is prejudiced. Then it gets assigned to another judge. This is supposed to be secret, but it isn’t in practice. The new judge sees the filing. I save the free bump for the worst judge in each county I practice in. The other judges know I do it, and know which judge I bump. I trust all the judges I don’t bump because I practice in front of them enough to know that they take their jobs seriously even when the disagree. And they are polite. The ones I bump are rude, biased and arrogant.

A second removal must be a motion supported by evidence. I have never brought one.

IANAL - but… I recall from sitting in the courtroom a couple of times, and hearing of court cases from friends (on was a sherrif’s assistant transporting prisoners. the local judge from many years ago was a cranky asshole (I believe that is the charitable description).

This is the judge that was faced with a defendant for “taxi theft”; the guy had been put in a taxi by friends, passed out, and had no money on him. Due to a number of “ride and dash” incidents, the prosecutors had adopted a zero tolerance. But, in this case, the prosecutor say, “…since the defendant showed no intent, and it is Christmas in a week…”

The judge interrupted with “I don’t give people a break because it’s Christmas. maybe he’ll get a good meal inside. 14 days. Next case.”

I happened to be talking with a visiting lawyer about this judge and appeals (not quite the same thing). An appeal basically says the judge got it wrong or was too harsh, and if the appeal court agreed, it was sometimes a rebuke to the judge. He said that since he only showed up in that small town court once or twice a year, the judge was careful. he knew the guy was not afraid to appeal.

OTOH, a local lawyer basically appeared in front of the judge all the time, several time a week in different cases. If a local lawyer appealed, the judge would get even by being harsher on all the other cases; basically making sure the lawyer suffered through his clients. After all, he can’t appeal every case.

(To answer the OP - yes, judges can be human. They can be fair, or they can be assholes. Rarely is that distinction part of the selection criteria.)

So it depends on whether the particular lawyer and particular judge pair up regularly. In a small town with one or two judges and a dozen lawyers, more dangerous to make waves. In a large jurisdiction, where you don’t face him again soon - having a reputation that you don’t put up with shit is probably a good thing.

As for how it affects his relation with other judges - depends on the situation. Everyone has a reputation. Some judges will think “the <bleep> got what he deserved”. Others will think the lawyer is in the wrong. But, they will be much less motivated to retaliate than the original judge - and they will be careful how they rule, if they know too much of a misstep will result in an appeal.