U.S. Seventh Circuit - The FindLaw 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Judge's Law Review Article Does Not Warrant Recusal In Products Liability Case

In In re: Sherwin-Williams, Co., No. 10-1639, the Seventh Circuit dealt with a defendant's petition for a writ of mandamus requesting that a district judge be recused from presiding over four cases against manufacturers of white lead carbonate pigments, claiming that a law review article co-written by the judge creates an appearance of bias.

As stated in the decision: "Where a judge's comments, writings, or rulings are the basis for recusal request, our analysis assumes that a reasonable person is familiar with the documents at issue, as well as the context in which they came into being."  The court went on to state: "In addition to being a  well-informed about the surrounding facts and circumstances, for purposes of our analysis, a reasonable person is a 'thoughtful observer rather than...hypersensitive or unduly suspicious person.'"

Thus, in denying the petition, the court held that the petitioner has not established that the judge's article would make a reasonable, thoughtful, and well-informed observer question his impartiality.   

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