Bob takes Rob to the court which sets a date for the first hearing 12 January 2021.

Rob's lawyer from lawfirm X applies for adjournment of the hearing a few weeks later for reason Y.

Bob objects and articulates why reason Y does not stand. All this happens via email communication with the court's clerk.

Then, a judge, without any advance notice, considers the adjournment application alone in chambers and delivers decision out of the blue in which, although her Honour accepts Bob's reasoning re reason Y failing, nevertheless grants the adjournment application because...

"the officers of X will be closed from December 23rd 2020 to 18th January 2021. The defendant is entitled to legal representation."

When Bob questions how/when the court became aware of the particular dates for the X's Christmas break, the court clerk replies:

Judge ****** who granted the application for adjournment was already aware of when the defence counsel offices were closing etc from previous matters that she has dealt with.

That is, the judge comes up with a whole new argument in Rob's favour which not only at no point was communicated on notice for Bob to address it, but also was something that the judge knew about Rob's lawyer outside of the proceeding.

Minor magnitude of the matter aside, does the judge's conduct amount to any bias that could be actioned upon (e.g. recusal)?

(Any jurisdiction with adversarial system)

1 Answer 1


Judges generally have wide discretion on scheduling issues. If Rob's law firm X was indeed closed on the scheduled date that is reason enough to postpone, and that kind of postponement need not be argues if the Judge is satisfied. In any case what would Bob's lawyer say in response? It is a little surprising that this was not first mentioned by X, but mistakes happen. I don't thin k Bob can establish actionable bias based on this incident alone.

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    No @Greendrake , by mentioning "wide discretion" I am saying that the Judge's decision would not be overturned without very clear evidence of bias or some other impropriety, and i don't think the question shows that. Just how much harm would a short delay work, anyway? If X had intended to argue both reasons but somehow omitted the clo9sure, does tht make the closure less of a fact, or less of a reason to reschedule? Dec 3, 2020 at 22:38
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    @Greendrake given how small the family of trial lawyers seems to be in most jurisdictions (as in, law firms with lawyers that actually go to trial and stand and argue cases, as opposed to law firms which write contracts and deal with statutory matters), I find it utterly unbelievable that a judge is supposed to pretend that they have no recognition, or prior dealings, with a trial lawyer or firm before hearing a case - if each judge had to recuse themselves on that basis, nothing would go to trial because it would be very difficult to find a judge that could hear a case.
    – user28517
    Dec 3, 2020 at 22:42
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    @Greendrake if you take it to the extremes, any question has a stupid answer. A judge knowing the holiday schedule of a law firm does not make the judge biased.
    – user28517
    Dec 3, 2020 at 23:01
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    @Greendrake If the judge, actually knowing that the law office X was closed, scheduled a hearing then, would that not be an injustice whoh would, arguably, show bias the other way? I just don't see the point in offering a chance for the othe party to respond: closed is closed. I also don 't see significant harm done to any party, surely not enough to establish bias on the part of the judge. Dec 3, 2020 at 23:52
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    @Greendrake the court has a certain discretion it can use on its own, thats what the judge did in this case - unless the plaintiff can provide a reason as to why their case is time sensitive and thus harmed, I fail to see why you are trying to make this into an issue.
    – user28517
    Dec 4, 2020 at 1:06

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