At least in Massachusetts, we now know two things:
- You shouldn’t send a bible to a judge before whom you are a litigant; and
- If you do, you should not expect him to rule in your favor before recusing himself.
In the Appeals Court’s recent Lasher v. Lasher, a three –judge panel reversed a trial court judge who offered to entertain a motion to remove him from the case after he determined that a bible inscribed with his name sent to his lobby had been sent by the other party to the case. The non-gifting party took the judge up on his offer and sought recusal. The judge complied.
But, before doing it, he denied the only other motion that was before him, in which the party requesting recusal had sought substantive relief from an underlying judgment. In other words, he ruled that it was reasonable for the moving party to view him as tainted by the obvious impropriety of the gift; but he would rule on the dispositive substantive motion anyway, to the detriment of the offended party, and then withdraw from the now terminated case.
The appellate courts are not always kind to their trial court brothers and sisters, but in this case the Appeals Court made mercifully fast work of the matter by vacating the ruling on the substantive matter and remanding to another judge for re-hearing.