Fischer v. Knuck, No. 67590

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtOVERTON; Counsel filed with the motion a certificate of good faith. After the motion was filed; McDONALD
Citation11 Fla. L. Weekly 574,497 So.2d 240
Parties11 Fla. L. Weekly 574 Anne Marie FISCHER, Petitioner, v. Honorable Francis X. KNUCK, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 67590

Page 240

497 So.2d 240
11 Fla. L. Weekly 574
Anne Marie FISCHER, Petitioner,
v.
Honorable Francis X. KNUCK, Respondent.
No. 67590.
Supreme Court of Florida.
Nov. 6, 1986.

Page 241

Frumkes and Greene, P.A., Miami, and Patrice A. Talisman of Daniels & Hicks, P.A., Miami, for petitioner.

Jim Smith, Atty. Gen. and Charles M. Fahlbusch, Asst. Atty. Gen., Miami, for respondent.

Bonnie Blaire of Blaire & Cole, Coral Gables, for Gary Fischer, intervenor.

OVERTON, Justice.

This is a petition to review an order of the Third District Court of Appeal which denied a writ of prohibition seeking to preclude a trial judge from entering a final judgment in a dissolution proceeding, 474 So.2d 225. The question concerns the trial judge's authority to enter a written judgment on a matter tried and orally ruled upon prior to the filing of a motion for disqualification. We find conflict with Wishoff v. Polen, 468 So.2d 1035 (Fla. 4th DCA 1985), * and approve the district court decision.

The respondent, Circuit Judge Francis X. Knuck, presided over a dissolution proceeding involving the petitioner, Anne Marie Fischer. Evidence was taken over a two-day period, and final arguments were heard on a third day. Five days after the judge announced his decision on the merits, and twelve days after the testimony ended, Fischer filed a motion for disqualification of the judge. As grounds for disqualification, the motion asserted that (1) the judge refused to admit certain testimony believed by the petitioner to be material to the case; (2) the judge's behavior was unusual in that he refused to look at the petitioner or her attorney, and kept his eyes averted from all persons in the courtroom who appeared on the petitioner's behalf; (3) the case proceeded on three different days rather than the original two days set for trial; and (4) Judge Knuck remarked that the case was affecting his health and that he had rescheduled final arguments because of that fact. Additionally, petitioner's supporting affidavit contained descriptions of the judge's facial expressions and "non-verbal behavior" during the trial. For example:

Judge Knuck, over a three-day period of time, refused to look at me. He refused to meet the eyes of my witnesses and stared at the floor during my testimony.

I am unable to verbally describe Judge Knuck's demeanor throughout the trial other than to say that he was visibly uncomfortable, ill at ease, uninterested in my testimony or that of my witnesses.

Counsel filed with the motion a certificate of good faith. After the motion was filed, Judge Knuck questioned its legal sufficiency and the good faith of Fischer's attorney in filing it. Fischer's attorney responded by making an ore tenus motion for disqualification. The judge refused to rule on either motion, but announced he would voluntarily recuse himself, and did so, after signing the final judgment in accordance with his previously announced judgment in the case. Petitioner filed her petition for writ of prohibition in the Third District Court of Appeal, which denied the writ on the authority of Atrio Consolidated Industries, Inc. v. Southeast Bank, 434 So.2d 349 (Fla. 3d DCA 1983), and Schwartz v. Schwartz, 431 So.2d 716 (Fla. 3d DCA 1983). The district court noted apparent conflict with Wishoff v. Polen, 468 So.2d 1035 (Fla. 4th DCA 1985).

Petitioner contends in these proceedings that the motion was legally sufficient and respondent was required to disqualify himself immediately without regard to the fact

Page 242

that he had previously announced his judgment after hearing all the evidence in the case. Furthermore, petitioner claims that, even if the motion was legally insufficient, the judge, by...

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141 practice notes
  • Braddy v. State, No. SC07–2174.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 10, 2013
    ...if true, would place a reasonably prudent person in fear of not receiving a fair and impartial trial.” Id. (quoting Fischer v. Knuck, 497 So.2d 240, 242 (Fla.1986)); see also Livingston v. State, 441 So.2d 1083, 1087 (Fla.1983). In his October 11 motion, Braddy alleges that during an Octobe......
  • Lynch v. State, No. SC06-2233.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 6, 2008
    ...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). The primary consideration is whether the facts alleged, if true, would place a reasonably prudent person in fear of not recei......
  • Arbelaez v. State, No. SC02-2284
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • January 27, 2005
    ...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). The primary consideration is whether the facts alleged, if true, would place a reasonably prudent person in fear of not rece......
  • Breakstone v. MacKenzie, Nos. 88-2392
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • September 14, 1989
    ...judge's impartiality will not be considered "reasonably sufficient" to justify a "well-founded fear" of prejudice. See Fischer v. Knuck, 497 So.2d 240, 242 (Fla.1986). See also Ervin v. Collins, 85 So.2d 833 (Fla.1956) (a suggestion of disqualification held not legally sufficient where one ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
140 cases
  • Braddy v. State, No. SC07–2174.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 10, 2013
    ...if true, would place a reasonably prudent person in fear of not receiving a fair and impartial trial.” Id. (quoting Fischer v. Knuck, 497 So.2d 240, 242 (Fla.1986)); see also Livingston v. State, 441 So.2d 1083, 1087 (Fla.1983). In his October 11 motion, Braddy alleges that during an Octobe......
  • Lynch v. State, No. SC06-2233.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 6, 2008
    ..."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). The primary consideration is whether the facts alleged, if true, would place a reasonably prudent person in fear of not re......
  • Arbelaez v. State, No. SC02-2284
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • January 27, 2005
    ...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). The primary consideration is whether the facts alleged, if true, would place a reasonably prudent person in fear of not receiving a fair a......
  • Breakstone v. MacKenzie, Nos. 88-2392
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • September 14, 1989
    ...will not be considered "reasonably sufficient" to justify a "well-founded fear" of prejudice. See Fischer v. Knuck, 497 So.2d 240, 242 (Fla.1986). See also Ervin v. Collins, 85 So.2d 833 (Fla.1956) (a suggestion of disqualification held not legally sufficient where one o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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