A New York federal judge rejected environmental attorney Steven Donziger’s attempt to disqualify the entire federal bench of the Southern District of New York from his criminal contempt trial, saying there was “no basis” for the unusual request and adding that Donziger’s arguments in a related motion “border on the absurd.”
U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska was unimpressed on Thursday by Donziger’s argument that she and her Southern District colleagues would be unable to fairly evaluate a contempt ruling by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.
“Reviewing the decisions of fellow judges is, simply put, part of the judicial job description,” Judge Preska wrote in her order. “To the extent such a review is called for here, it is neither extraordinary nor grounds for recusal.”
In the same Thursday order, Judge Preska denied Donziger’s motions to disqualify her specifically, his request for a jury trial instead of a bench trial, his motion to dismiss the case, and his effort to disqualify the Seward & Kissel LLP attorneys appointed as special prosecutors.
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