Hebl’s bills would:
- Require a judge or justice to recuse himself or herself if a “reasonable person would question whether the judge or justice could act in an impartial manner.” Current law requires a judge to determine his or her own impartiality.
- Require a judge to recuse if, within the last for years, a party in the case has contributed $1000 or more — directly or in independent expenditures.
- Allow the state Supreme Court to review recusal decisions of justices.
If a justice doesn’t recuse after a request is made, require him or her to report the reasons for the decision.
Make Supreme Court justices subject to discipline by a panel of Court of Appeals judges rather than the Supreme Court.
I think a law like this may run into separation of powers issues, but setting that aside, it is also really bad law. Consider the second bullet… so if I have a case before the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals, all I have to do to narrow the panel to just the favorable judges is spend $1,000 on campaign stuff? That’s less than the cost of an afternoon of work for some lawyers. And since I can do it with independent expenditures, the justices can’t even refuse to accept it.