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Judicial Bias/Disqualification — Judge Close Relative of “Counsel Thereto” A Party

State v. Crystal Harrell a/k/a Parker, 199 Wis. 2d 654, 546 N.W.2d 115 (1996)


The issue before us is whether, in a case tried by the district attorney’s office, a circuit court judge, whose spouse is an assistant district attorney in the same county, is required to disqualify himself or herself under either Wis. Stat. § 757.19(2)(a) (1993-94),1–prohibiting a judge from hearing a case when a close relative is “counsel thereto” for either party–or Wis. Stat. § 757.19(2)(g),2–prohibiting a judge from hearing a case when the judge determines he or she cannot retain his or her impartiality. We hold that neither Wis. Stat. § 757.19(2)(a) nor Wis. Stat. § 757.19(2)(g) requires a judge to disqualify himself or herself in such a situation as long as his or her spouse did not participate in, or help prepare, the case.


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