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State v. Dechaine

Superior Court of Maine, Knox

April 10, 2014

STATE OF MAINE
v.
DENNIS J. DECHAINE, Defendant

Decided April 9, 2014

ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR RECUSAL

Carl O. Bradford, Justice

Prior to the November 2013 hearings on defendant's motion for new trial, counsel for both sides informed the Court that there is an outstanding motion for recusal from July 2011 pending before the Court.

Legal Standard

A motion for a new trial under the DNA analysis law " must be assigned to the trial judge or justice who imposed the sentence unless that judge or justice is unavailable." 15 M.R.S. § 2138(1). Under the Maine Code of Judicial Conduct, a judge or justice must recuse himself " in any proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned." M. Code Jud. Conduct I(3)(E)(2). This includes cases where " the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party's lawyer, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding." Id.

The Law Court has " long held that recusal is a matter within the broad discretion of the trial court." State v. Atwood, 2010 ME 12, ¶ 20, 988 A.2d 981 (internal quotation omitted). " [T]he fact that a judge presided at one trial or proceeding will not suffice to support a motion to recuse that judge from a subsequent proceeding." State v. Rameau , 685 A.2d 761, 763 (Me. 1996).

Discussion

Defendant's motion for recusal does not allege any personal bias or prejudice. At most, defendant insinuates that, because the Court ruled against the defendant at tidal on his motion for a continuance to conduct DNA testing, the same Court cannot be impartial now. The Court's decision was upheld on appeal. See State v. Dechaine , 572 A.2d 130, 132-33 (Me. 1990). The fact that a judge ruled against a party in the past does not support a motion for recusal. Accordingly, defendant's motion for recusal is denied.


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