Copyright (c) 1987 North Carolina Law Review
North Carolina Law Review
SURVEY OF DEVELOPMENTS IN NORTH CAROLINA LAW, 1986: I. CIVIL PROCEDURE: State v. Fie: Determining the Proper Standard for Recusal of Judges in North Carolina.
65 N.C.L. Rev. 1138
One of the most valued rights of American citizens is the right to a fair trial. 1 One component of a fair trial is an impartial judge. 2 To preserve impartiality, all state and federal courts provide a mechanism through which a judge may be disqualified from hearing a particular case. The majority of states provide for disqualification through recusal. 3 Not all states, however, use the same test for determining when recusal is appropriate. Traditionally, recusal was deemed appropriate if the party requesting it could prove that at least one of the objective factors listed in the controlling statute was present. 4 More recently, some state courts 5 have followed the lead of the federal courts 6 and the ABA Code of Judicial Conduct 7 in declaring that recusal is appropriate if specific objective factors are met, or if nonrecusal would give the appearance of impropriety. 8 This Note examines North Carolina's law on recusal to determine the appropriate test for applying the doctrine. 9 The Note then analyzes the North Carolina Court of Appeal's decision in State v. Fie, 10 focusing specifically on whether the court of appeals applied the correct test and whether the motion to recuse should have been granted. The Note concludes that North Carolina law has supplemented its objective-factor test with the appearance-of-impropriety test as an appropriate ground for recusal. It further concludes that the Fie majority's denial of recusal 11 was inconsistent with the results of other similar cases, and ...
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