Florida Court Discusses the Right to an Impartial Judge in a DUI Case

People charged with DUI crimes and other offenses have the right to an impartial trial. As such, if the judge presiding over a criminal matter demonstrates undue bias against the defendant, such behavior may provide grounds for arguing that the judge should not be permitted to preside over the case. Recently, a Florida court discussed what a defendant seeking a writ of prohibition preventing a judge from handling a matter must prove in an opinion issued in a DUI case. If you are accused of committing a DUI offense, it is in prudent to meet with a Florida DUI defense lawyer to assess your rights.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged via information with several alcohol-related crimes, including DUI (driving under the influence) with serious bodily injury and damage to a person or property. He was released on bond but was subsequently arrested again and charged with committing numerous offenses, including vessel homicide and boating under the influence.

Allegedly, the trial court revoked his bond, and the State filed a motion for pretrial detention, citing a prior DUI conviction in another state. The court granted the motion after finding the State satisfied the criteria for demonstrating that pre-trial detention was warranted. The defendant was later acquitted, after which he filed a petition for a writ of prohibition to prevent the assigned trial judge from presiding over his criminal case any further. He also filed a petition seeking review of the pretrial detention order after his motion for reconsideration of the order was denied.

The Right to an Impartial Judge

The court denied the defendant’s petition. The court explained that it was well-established under Florida law that the statutes governing the disqualification of judges were never intended to allow a discontented litigant to remove a judge from a case simply because the judge ruled in a manner that was adverse to the party, as such rulings are reviewable.

Instead, the laws pertaining to judicial disqualification are designed to prevent a judge from taking further action in a pending case. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff’s petition for disqualification of the trial court judge was legally insufficient. Thus, the court denied the defendant’s write of prohibition against the judge without elaborating any further. The court also denied the defendant’s petition to overturn the pretrial detention order.

Meet with an Experienced Florida Attorney

A conviction for a DUI crime can carry a significant penalty, and it is critical that any charged with such an offense receives a fair trial. If you are accused of driving while intoxicated, it is advisable to meet with an attorney to evaluate what measures you can take to protect your interests. The experienced Florida lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. can advise you of your potential defenses and aid you in pursuing the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can reach us by calling 800-283-7442 or by using our form online to set up a meeting.


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