103 So.3d 184 (Fla.App. 4 Dist. 2012), 4D12-556, Domville v. State

Docket Nº:4D12-556.
Citation:103 So.3d 184, 37 Fla. L. Weekly D 2126
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM.
Party Name:Pierre DOMVILLE, Petitioner, v. STATE of Florida, Respondent.
Attorney:Denzle G. Latty, Fort Lauderdale, for petitioner. Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Georgina Jimenez-Orosa, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for respondent.
Judge Panel:GROSS, GERBER and LEVINE, JJ., concur.
Case Date:September 05, 2012
Court:Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District
 
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Page 184

103 So.3d 184 (Fla.App. 4 Dist. 2012)

37 Fla. L. Weekly D 2126

Pierre DOMVILLE, Petitioner,

v.

STATE of Florida, Respondent.

No. 4D12-556.

Florida Court of Appeal, Fourth District.

September 5, 2012

Rehearing Denied Jan. 16, 2013.

Denzle G. Latty, Fort Lauderdale, for petitioner.

Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Georgina Jimenez-Orosa, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for respondent.

Page 185

PER CURIAM.

In this case we consider a criminal defendant's effort to disqualify a judge whom the defendant alleges is a Facebook friend of the prosecutor assigned to his case. Finding that grounds for disqualification exist, we grant the petition for writ of prohibition.

Petitioner Pierre Domville moved to disqualify the trial judge. The motion was supported by an affidavit averring that the prosecutor handling the case and the trial judge are Facebook " friends." This relationship caused Domville to believe that the judge could not " be fair and impartial." Domville explained that he was a Facebook user and that his " friends" consisted " only of [his] closest friends and associates, persons whom [he] could not perceive with anything but favor, loyalty and partiality." The affidavit attributed adverse rulings to the judge's Facebook relationship with the prosecutor. The trial judge denied the motion as " legally insufficient."

In determining the legal sufficiency of a motion to disqualify the trial judge, this court reviews the motion's allegations under a de novo standard. See Peterson v. Asklipious, 833 So.2d 262, 263 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002). Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.330(f) requires a judge to grant disqualification if the motion to disqualify is " legally sufficient." A motion is legally sufficient if " ‘ the facts alleged (which must be taken as true) would prompt a reasonably prudent person to fear that he could not get a fair and impartial trial.’ " Brofman v. Fla. Hearing Care Ctr., Inc., 703 So.2d 1191, 1192 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997) ( quoting Hayslip v. Douglas, 400 So.2d 553, 556 (Fla. 4th DCA 1981)). A mere " subjective fear [ ]" of bias will not be legally sufficient; rather, the fear must be objectively reasonable. Fischer v. Knuck, 497 So.2d 240, 242 (Fla.1986).

We find an opinion of the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee to be instructive. See Fla. JEAC Op.2009-20 (Nov...

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