If you’ve ever argued in federal court, you know that the judge is a gatekeeper who can make or break your case. So it’s not unusual that an attorney might feel that the judge is leaning towards or against a particular side. But removing a judge isn’t always an option. Recently, however, the Third Circuit considered claims that a judge was biased and had the judge removed from a case.
In a filing on March 28, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit removed U.S. District Court Judge Arthur J. Schwab from a case after lawyers for West Penn Allegheny alleged that he was biased. The lawyers claimed that Judge Schwab exhibited a “worrisome practice of misstating and mischaracterizing” their positions, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
This isn’t the first time Judge Schwab has been removed for bias. According to the Post-Gazette, he was removed several years back from a criminal case involving a former Allegheny County coroner.
The more recent case was a lawsuit involving accusations that UPMC and Highmark were working together to hinder competition from other hospitals. The suit was brought by West Penn Allegheny, the region’s second largest hospital system. Lawyers for West Penn alleged that the judge indicated bias in his wording to their opposition to the release of their Affiliation Agreement with Highmark.
They asked the court to “correct its misstatements to avoid any possible appearance of bias.”
A previous discovery order has been vacated and the case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti.
- West Penn v. UPMC (FindLaw Cases)
- W. Penn Allegheny Health Sys. Inc. v. UPMC 09-4468 (U.S. Third Circuit Blog)
- Biography of Judge Conti (US Courts)