A plan to require trial judges in civil cases refer a motion to disqualify to another judge for determination has been heavily amended.
HB 1132 as introduced gave the judge who was the subject of such a disqualification motion two options:
- grant the motion (and have the chief judge assign a new judge) or
- certify the motion to the chief judge of the court for the chief judge to make the determination. If the targeted judge is the chief judge of the court, the chief judge must certify the motion to a chief judge of an “adjoining, like jurisdiction.”
HB 1132 as amended and approved by the House provides that the trial judge will continue to determine, and even reject, such a disqualification motion and must do so within 63 days in a signed, written order.
- If granted, the case is reassigned
- If denied, a petition for review of the motion to disqualify may be filed in a higher court as an interlocutory appeal (County Court to District Court, District Court to Court of Appeals). Such a petition “must be expedited on the reviewing court’s docket.”
HB 1132 as amended was approved 64-1 in the house on April 20 and is set for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1.