Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Appeals Court Refuses To Order Recusal of Fundamentalist Christian Judge

In Ex parte Tiara Brooke Lycans, (AL App., July 28, 2017), an Alabama appellate court refused to issue a writ of mandamus ordering a trial judge who also serves as a preacher of a fundamentalist Christian church to recuse himself in a divorce action in which the wife, a lesbian, feared bias in the judge's custody ruling.  The court said in part:
Judge Bell's expressed belief that homosexual relationships and marriage are contrary to God's law, ... that God's law takes precedence over man-made law, and his placing paramount importance on the moral environment in which a child will live ... would tend to indicate to a reasonable person that a reasonable basis for questioning Judge Bell's impartiality in the divorce action exists; however, the standard is not whether there are some facts that would tend to indicate ... a reasonable basis.... Rather, the issue is "whether a reasonable person knowing everything that [Judge Bell] knows would have a "reasonable basis for questioning [Judge Bell's] impartiality."...  Judge Bell, in his pendente lite custody order ... granted the mother and the father joint physical custody of the child, with custody alternating weekly, and ... [he] has granted two other lesbian mothers and the fathers of their children joint physical custody.... [A] reasonable person who knows everything that Judge Bell knows would not have a reasonable basis for questioning Judge Bell's impartiality....
Christian Post reports on the decision.