Keep an eye out in an upcoming Louisiana State Bar Association Journal for an article authored by Rodney & Etter, LLC attorneys Roy J. Rodney, Jr., John K. Etter and Veronica J. Lam entitled, “The Last Stand of the Duty to Sit Doctrine in Louisiana.” The article addresses the foundations of Louisiana law on recusal, the rise of the Louisiana Code of Judicial Conduct Canons, and how Louisiana Circuit Courts have continued to apply the duty to sit doctrine in the face of Louisiana Supreme Court decisions that favor recusal where there is the appearance of impropriety. The article also points out that the federal system and the majority of other states favor recusal to uphold the appearance of justice over a judge’s “duty to sit.”
The “duty to sit” – that is, the job of hearing cases – does not conflict with the Code of Civil Procedure. On the other hand, the inflated or pernicious version contends that the “duty to sit” doctrine encourages judges to remain on cases from which they arguably should have recused themselves. It improperly allows a weighing of the judges’ own duty to purpose against the merits. Louisiana should eliminate the so-called pernicious version of the duty to sit while preserving the benign concept that judges not avoid hard or risky cases.
The duty to sit is an outdated, problematic doctrine unhelpful to twenty-first century questions of judicial recusal. Despite legislative and jurisprudential efforts to eliminate the so-called “pernicious” version of the duty to sit doctrine, it continues to appear and exert undue negative influence in Louisiana, other states, and some federal court decisions.
On February 15, 2013, Roy Rodney, Jr. presented on this topic to local judges at a CLE in Baton Rouge held by the Louisiana Judicial Council of the National Bar Association. For more information on either the Louisiana Bar Journal article or the presentation to the Louisiana Judicial Council, feel free to email InTouch@rodneyandetter.com.Tags: Duty to Sit, Louisiana, Louisiana Law, Louisiana State Bar ASsociation Journal, recuse