Seeco, Inc. v. Hales

In Seeco, Inc. v. Hales, 334 Ark. 134, 969 S.W.2d 193 (1998), an attorney, Michael Fitzhugh, entered an appearance as local counsel of record for Seeco after the attorney had announced his candidacy for the circuit judgeship held by the trial judge presiding over the case. Based on the timing of Fitzhugh's entry into the case, the trial judge disqualified Fitzhugh from the case, and, further, ordered that Fitzhugh could not practice law in Arkansas during his judicial candidacy. 969 S.W.2d at 195. The Supreme Court of Arkansas agreed with the trial judge's decision to disqualify Fitzhugh from appearing as counsel in the case, but disagreed with the trial judge's order disqualifying Fitzhugh from practicing law in Arkansas while he was a judicial candidate. 969 S.W.2d at 196-97. The court expressed its concerns over "judge-shopping," stating, "we will not abide an orchestrated effort to force a judge's removal from a case." 334 Ark. 140, 969 S.W.2d at 196. The Supreme Court of Arkansas further stated that generally "it is incumbent upon a sitting judge to recuse in cases where a political opponent is appearing as counsel." 969 S.W.2d at 197. However, it stated that this general rule does not apply to a situation where the judicial candidate seeks to participate in a case merely to force a recusal. Id.