When you are involved in a lawsuit, the judge is supposed to be a neutral third party able to act without bias. But what if the judge has an interest in the case? In some instances, the judge may be disqualified from hearing your case, but it will require a competent business litigation attorney to navigate this challenging area of law.
That’s what the plaintiff is trying to do in a case involving one of the highest grossing films of all time, Avatar. The plaintiff in that case accused Director James Cameron of stealing the idea for the enormously popular film. When the judge, Susan Bryant-Deason, granted Cameron’s motion for summary judgment, which would have ended the case, the plaintiff claimed that the judge should be disqualified from the case because her husband has worked with 20th Century Fox (the company that released the film).
Although the judge’s husband is not an employee of Fox, he has worked on Fox films. And under most states’ laws, a judge can be disqualified from a case if he or she has an interest—monetary or otherwise—in the outcome of the case, regardless of whether the judge shows actual bias in his or her rulings during the process. And as this case illustrates, that interest in the case can result from a spouse or other family member’s involvement with one of the parties in the case.
Handling a business case where the judge has a potential interest in the outcome requires a great deal of sensitivity. It can be an uphill battle when trying to convince a court that the judge in your case should not handle the case. Working with an experienced Texas business litigation attorney who is familiar with the rules regarding judicial bias is essential when you’re concerned about a judge’s possible impartiality.