One of the tenets of criminal law is that a defendant has the right to a fair and impartial trial. Thus, if a DWI defendant believes that a judge is unduly prejudiced or biased against the defendant, he or she can file a motion for recusal. Recusal is only granted in limited circumstances, however, as demonstrated in a recent case in which a New Jersey appellate court affirmed the defendant’s DWI conviction following the denial of a motion for recusal. If you are faced with DWI charges, it is advisable to meet with a proficient DWI defense attorney to discuss the rights you are afforded under the law.
Procedural Background of the Case
It is reported that the defendant was charged with DWI in December 2017. The matter was listed for a hearing in May 2018; however, the defendant’s attorney failed to appear due to a medical issue. The day prior to the hearing, an associate from the defendant’s attorney’s office informed the court that none of the attorneys from the firm were available to represent the defendant at the hearing, and no one would appear on behalf of the defendant.
Allegedly, during the hearing, the judge expressed concern regarding the scheduling issue and the late notice provided by the defendant’s attorney regarding his inability to appear. The matter was relisted. At the subsequent hearing, the defendant’s case was not addressed by the court until several hours after it was scheduled to be heard. The defendant’s attorney expressed concerns that the delay was punishment for his failure to appear at the earlier hearing. He further stated he believed the judge had a conflict of interest and filed a motion for recusal. The motion for recusal was ultimately denied, and the defendant entered a conditional guilty plea. The defendant’s sentence was stayed pending appeal.