If you want to know how much federal appellate courts hate to second-guess federal trial judges’ decisions on whether to recuse themselves, take a look at Scenic Holding, LLC v. The New Board of Trustees of the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, Inc., No. 06-2934 (8th Cir. Nov. 6, 2007) (available at www.ca8.uscourts.gov).  The court spends five pages explaining why the district judge’s personal adherence to the defendants’ religious denomination; extra-judicial knowledge of the denomination’s governance and internal workings; and rulings before, during, and after trial in favor of the defendants wouldn’t suggest bias to a reasonable person.

Barry Barnett

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