Reach v. Reach

In Reach v. Reach, 378 So. 2d 1115 (Ala. Civ. App. 1979), the husband in a pending divorce action moved the trial judge to recuse himself because the husband's attorney had been a political opponent of the judge in the previous election. Because the husband had served as the attorney's campaign manager, the husband argued that the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned. Reach, 378 So. 2d at 1117. The Court of Civil Appeals upheld the trial court's denial of the husband's motion to recuse. Id. That court stated that Canon 3(C)(1) of the Canons of Judicial Ethics provides "that a judge should recuse himself in a proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned in instances where he has personal bias or prejudice concerning a party." Id. However, "such prejudice is not presumed." Id. Moreover, "it is incumbent on the moving party to prove that the bias is of a personal nature." Id. Although instructive, Reach is distinguishable from the present situation. In Reach, the trial- court judge was not engaged in an active campaign. Rather, the election was over.