Motion for Change of Judge Who Dismissed Original Case
The policy reasons for not allowing a defendant who files an application for post-conviction relief to peremptorily disqualify the trial judge who conducted the underlying trial are persuasive.
Applications for post-conviction relief are a significant part of the judicial case load.
Many of these cases involve issues such as whether the defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel or whether the defendant should be granted a new trial based on newly discovered evidence.
The trial judge who conducted the original trial has a significant advantage in evaluating these issues. to require a judge unfamiliar with the case to become familiar with the record of a lengthy trial would be a significant burden.
Furthermore, some critical aspects of the trial, such as the credibility and demeanor of the witnesses, are difficult to extract from the record of a case.
The trial judge who saw the witnesses testify, and who saw the presentation and arguments by counsel, is in a much better position to render an accurate decision.
We do not believe that Staso v. State 895 P.2d 988 (Alaska 1995) compels a different result.
Staso filed a civil suit against the State of Alaska.
His case was dismissed without prejudice because he failed to meet the special procedural requirements of Alaska Civil Rule 16.1. Staso then refiled exactly the same civil case. When the case was reassigned to the judge who had dismissed his original case, Staso filed a motion for change of judge.
When the trial court denied Staso's motion for change of judge, Staso appealed to the supreme court. the supreme court held that since Staso had filed a new civil case, he was entitled to a new peremptory challenge.