Florida’s Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee issued an opinion concerning Florida judges presiding over hurricane-related civil insurance cases who have also submitted a hurricane-related insurance claim. Under what circumstances must judges disclose and/or recuse themselves from hurricane-related cases when they have filed an insurance claim with an insurance company that also has cases coming before them?

The JEAC opinion addresses only the ethical implications of Disclosure/Recusal/Disqualification and advised that the “inquiring judge(s) should 1) disclose that they have a filed a pending hurricane-related insurance claim to all parties or their attorneys with hurricane-related insurance claims in their division; and 2) recuse themselves from any cases involving the insurance company with whom the judge has filed their claim.” Further, if a judge’s own hurricane-related insurance claim settles, the judge “must disclose the existence of the insurance claim and its settlement for a reasonable period of time after its occurrence…”. Finally, “if the claim proceeds to litigation, and the judge is represented by an attorney, and that attorney comes before the judge on either a contested or uncontested matter, the judge must automatically recuse himself or herself for a reasonable period of time after the representation ends.” There are opinions suggesting a reasonable period of time ranges from several months to one-year. See Fla. JEAC Ops. 12-09, 11-17; 20-23, 01-17 and 12-37.

As for the legal requirements for recusals, “[i]f a motion for recusal is made and it is legally sufficient, then the judge should grant the motion and recuse.”

You can read JEAC Opinion 2023-1 here.


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