Statue of lady liberty holding scales of justice in front of law books.

In Real State Golden Investments, Inc. v. Larrain (Fla. 3d DCA Aug. 21, 2019), a trial court judge made improper comments following his denial of a motion to intervene.

Although the Defendants had not filed a motion to stay the proceedings, nor suggested that they intended to file one, the trial court nonetheless denied a non-existent motion to stay the proceedings. The trial judge explained his ruling by stating that he expected a motion to stay because the Defendants “appeal everything in this case.” Thus, the trial court concluded that based on the events of the hearing, he would deny and motion to stay because there would not be a reasonable chance of success on the appeal.

The trial court’s statements were improper because a trial judge’s announced policy or predisposition to rule in a particular manner is grounds for disqualification. Moreover, a trial judge’s announced intention before a hearing to make a specific ruling, regardless of any evidence or argument to the contrary, “is the paradigm of judicial bias and prejudice.”

Therefore, because the judge’s remarks were made in the absence of any motion or evidence, they were sufficient to give the Defendants an objectively reasonable fear that they would not receive a fair trial. Thus, the Third DCA granted the writ of prohibition, holding that the trial court judge should have been disqualified from the action.

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