Georgia: judges related within 6 degrees of party must recuse; reducing down to 3 degrees

There’s a sociological theory that everyone is within “six degrees of separation” to every other person on the planet. A 1933 Georgia law (codified now as O.C.G.A. § 15-1-8 for judges; similar statutes exist for jurors) has been testing that theory, prohibiting judges “related by consanguinity or affinity within the sixth degree” from participating in cases for 80 years.

Under HB 207 introduced last week, however, the relationship would have to be closer, down to a third degree relative. This appears to be the first attempt to alter the sixth-degree rule in decades.

Interesting note: several other state have similar sixth degree statutes on the books (Kansas § 22-3410; New York Judiciary Law § 14; South Carolina § 14-1-130; Tennessee (special judges) § 17-2-101)

HB 207 has been filed in the House Judiciary Committee.