Recovering Judicial Integrity: Toward a Duty-Focused Disqualification Jurisprudence Based on Jewish Law

66 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2022

See all articles by Shlomo Pill

Shlomo Pill

Texas Southern University - Thurgood Marshall School of Law; Emory University School of Law

Date Written: December 1, 2011

Abstract

The United States Supreme Court's ruling that West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin's decision not to recuse himself from a case involving a major donor to his judicial election campaign violated Due Process' sparked a storm of interest in the (in)adequacy of the judicial disqualification system. Contemporary recusal law makes conclusory determinations of actual or apparent judicial bias, resulting in an inconsistent doctrine that allows dishonest judges to resist recusal and supplant litigants' legal rights in favor of their own personal agendas. The current approach also erodes public confidence in the justice system by under and over-enforcing bias-based recusal, and its focus on top-down mandatory disqualification fails to adequately encourage judges to be personally and professionally integrious. This Article suggests that these problems might be mitigated by comprehensively rethinking our approach to judicial disqualification based on halacha, traditional Jewish law. Halachic recusal law offers an alternative to the current American approach, a jurisprudence that is grounded in courts' and judges' personal and professional duties, and which empowers jurists to develop their own integrity by limiting mandatory disqualification and relying instead on judges' duty-consciousness and self-disciplining decisions to voluntarily recuse.

Keywords: Judicial Ethics, Jewish Law, Recusal, Rights and Duties

Suggested Citation

Pill, Shlomo, Recovering Judicial Integrity: Toward a Duty-Focused Disqualification Jurisprudence Based on Jewish Law (December 1, 2011). Fordham Urban Law Journal, Vol. 39, 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3975515

Shlomo Pill (Contact Author)

Texas Southern University - Thurgood Marshall School of Law ( email )

3100 Cleburne Street
Houston, TX 77004
United States

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

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