Judge Bias

by Connie Thacker 01/19/2019

The Judge presiding over my divorce case does not seem to like me and is always ruling against me, can I get a different judge?

In Michigan, the right to due process includes the right to have an unbiased and impartial decision maker; see Mitchell v Mitchell, 296 Mich App 513, 523; 823 NW2d 153 (2012). The Court, however, presumes that the trial court was unbiased “and the party asserting otherwise has the heavy burden of overcoming the presumption”; see also Cain v Dep’t of Corrections, 451 Mich 470, 497; 548 NW2d 210 (1996).

A judge may be subject to disqualification if, in relevant part, the judge is biased or prejudiced for or against a party or an attorney; see MCR 2.003 (C)(1)(a).  In such cases, the party claiming bias must show an actual bias that is both personal and extrajudicial. An unfavorable disposition that springs from the events occurring during the litigation can amount to bias if they display a deep-seated favoritism or antagonism that would make fair judgment impossible.

Not all favorable or unfavorable dispositions or opinions amount to bias or prejudice; the terms connote a favorable or unfavorable disposition or opinion that is wrongful or inappropriate. A judge who forms an opinion or disposition through knowledge properly and necessarily acquired in the course of the proceedings is not thereby recusable for bias or prejudice.  A judge’s adverse rulings and comments do not by themselves establish bias or prejudice.

Thacker Sleight

grand rapids office  •  616 888 3810
601 5th street nw, suite 210
grand rapids michigan 49504

grand haven office  •  616 888 3810

saugatuck office  •  269 857 9120

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