Judge Recuse Himself in Franklin County, Alabama

It is sometimes in your best interest to hire an attorney that’s from another county than the one you live in.

The last thing anyone wants when going through something as personal as a divorce is to feel like someone in the courtroom already has a preconceived perception of you. A woman in Franklin County recently asked a Judge to recuse himself from her case because the man she wanted to divorce was the son of an attorney who regularly practiced in front of this very judge.

In 2014, a husband filed for divorce from his wife in Franklin County, Alabama, and the case was assigned to Judge Terry Dempsey. The wife filed a motion to recuse, stating that her former husband was the son of an attorney who regularly practiced in Franklin County, in the case of Ex parte Rogers.

Presumably, the woman felt her father in law’s relationship to Judge Dempsy gave her husband an unfair advantage. Judge Dempsey granted the motion and the case was assigned to another judge, who entered a final judgment in 2015.

In 2016, the former husband filed a complaint modify the original judgment and the case was assigned to Judge Dempsey. Again, the former wife filed a motion to recuse but this time Judge Dempsey denied the motion. The former wife disagreed with Judge Dempsey and asked a higher-level court to review this decision.

The Court of Civil Appeals held that the modification of the original judgment is a distinct action, independent of the original divorce. Even though all the parties are the same, it is considered a completely different case by the court.

This means Judge Dempsey’s recusal from the divorce case was not, by itself, enough to disqualify him from a later case involving the same parties. In order for Judge Dempsey to have to recuse himself, there would have to be substantial evidence showing he had an unfair bias towards one of the parties.

Since Judge Dempsey recused himself from the initial case, it still may seem a little odd that the presided over a modification over that case. In close knit communities, it may seem that the entire legal community knows each other. Therefore, it can be to your advantage to hire an attorney from outside that community that still knows the area and courthouse culture extremely well.

Joseph Ingram has been in front of a judge in almost every county in Alabama and can help fight for you when you feel that the deck might be slightly stacked against you.

Contact Alabama Attorney, Joseph A. Ingram at (205) 656-0044.