Last week on both the Illinois Supreme Court Review and this blog, we tracked recusals, year-by-year in civil cases. This week on both blogs, we’re tracking the importance of recusals in criminal cases. While recusals in civil cases are often caused by a Justice’s personal or financial interest in a party, the most common cause of recusals on the criminal side is that the case was argued and essentially decided before the Justice joined the Court, or because the case was decided by the Court of Appeal from which the Justice came.
In 1994, there were only two recusals in criminal cases at the Court, both by Justice Werdegar. In 1995, Justice Werdegar recused twice, and Justices Arabian and Baxter once apiece. In 1996, new Justice Janice Rogers Brown recused in seven criminal cases. Justice Baxter recused in three, and Justice Chin recused once. In 1997, there were no recusals in criminal cases.
In 1998, Chief Justice George recused in two criminal cases, and that was all. There were no recusals in criminal cases in either 1999 or 2000. In 2001, new Justice Carlos Moreno recused in four criminal cases, and Chief Justice George recused once.
In 2002, Justice Baxter recused in five criminal cases, and Justice Brown recused once. In 2003, Justices Baxter and Kennard recused once each. In 2004, Chief Justice George recused in one criminal case, and that was all. Again in 2005, there was only recusal – Justice Baxter.
Join us back here tomorrow as we wrap up our look at the importance of recusals in the California Supreme Court.