Disqualifying the trial judge

Dec 31, 2019

Darien Hauter appeals two orders entered on the same day in two cases. The first order denied Hauter’s motion to disqualify the trial judge as “legally insufficient.” The second order, filed fifteen minutes later, denied Hauter’s motion to mitigate his sentences. Hauter stated in his affidavit in support of his motion certain specific facts showing that prior to his presentation of any evidence or argument at his sentencing hearing for a downward departure sentence, the judge had made comments that indicated he had predetermined that Hauter would receive lengthy prison sentences. Such comments provided Hauter with a well-founded fear that he would not receive a fair sentencing before the judge. Under the circumstances, because the trial judge should have disqualified himself prior to ruling on Hauter’s motion to mitigate sentences, we vacate the orders. Once an order disqualifying a judge is entered, the judge is prohibited from any further participation in the case.

Read Full Opinion Below:
Hauter v. State (Fla. App. 2019) – Fastcase Public Documents.pdf

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