A trial judge’s “acerbic comments” and overall hostility toward the defendants and their counsel warranted his disqualification from the case.

In this professional malpractice claim, at a hearing on the defendants objections to discovery, the Broward County trial judge cut-off defense counsel during argument, expressed a pre-judgment of the matter, granted the plaintiffs’ improper request and imposed monetary sanctions against the defense. The defendants sought to disqualify the judge, who refused to grant the request. The appellate court held that the judge’s actions were misguided because of his misunderstanding or confusion surrounding the independent discovery requests and his unwillingness to consider defense counsel’s explanation. The appellate court further noted that, under these circumstances, a reasonably prudent person would be in fear of not receiving a fair and impartial trial, and thus ruled that the judge should indeed be disqualified from the case. Follow this link for the full opinion: Partin, M.D. & Partin, P.A. v. Magalhaes, 40 Fla. L. Weekly D1074 (Fla. 4th DCA May 6, 2015).