By Libby Yin Goodknight, Krieg DeVault LLP
The Indiana Supreme Court recently confirmed that a lawyer’s submission of a flattering recommendation letter on behalf of a trial judge who is applying for an appellate judge position does not require the trial judge to recuse himself when that lawyer appears before him in a case. In L.G. v. S.L., the Supreme Court recognized that under its current merit selection process, a trial judge applying for an appellate judge position is “required to list references who have appeared in his court as well as solicit recommendation letters.” The Supreme Court held that saying “kind things” about a judge in a recommendation letter “alone is not enough to require recusal. If it were, then . . . any trial judge who submitted an application for an appellate judge position . . . would have to recuse himself in each case where one of the attorneys listed on his application and/or who wrote letters for him appeared. This would be disabling to courts, particularly in small Indiana counties where only a handful of attorneys practice in front of the trial court judge.” The Supreme Court’s holding is good news for trial and appellate lawyers who desire to see the best possible jurists on our appellate courts.
You can find the opinion in L.G. v. S.L. here.
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