Pool Water Products, Inc. v. Pools by L.S. Rule, 91-1046

Decision Date27 January 1993
Docket NumberNo. 91-1046,91-1046
Citation612 So.2d 705
Parties18 Fla. L. Week. D386, 18 Fla. L. Week. D424 POOL WATER PRODUCTS, INC., a Florida corporation, Appellant, v. POOLS BY L.S. RULE, a Florida corporation and Larry Rule, individually, Appellees.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Lee B. Gartner of Lee B. Gartner, P.A., Sunrise, for appellant.

John W. Conness of John W. Conness, P.A., Fort Lauderdale, for appellee.


Appellant challenges the final judgment in this appeal because it maintains that the trial court erroneously refused to recuse himself after revealing at trial that the judge had a close family relationship with the appellee. We agree and reverse.

At the non-jury trial of this action appellant called Larry Rule, the president of appellee, as an adverse witness. Just after Rule was sworn and began to testify, the judge informed the parties that he knew Rule. The judge explained that Rule's parents and the judge's parents had been close, and that both the judge and the judge's sister had known Rule ten years ago. He then gave counsel for appellant an opportunity to discuss this development with his client, the appellant. After doing so, Appellant's counsel moved for a recusal, stating, "You know, he [the client] has no real reason to think that you are not going to be impartial, but rather than putting you in that position, he would just as soon have you recuse yourself in this particular instance." Appellee's attorney objected, stating that there was no written motion and that the reason was not legally sufficient, in any event.

The trial judge gave appellant another recess to compose an ore tenus motion making a legally sufficient showing. The appellant came back with the following recitation:

The only thing that my client pointed out, and what concerns him is number one, his company is a California Company. They have been here five years. Even though it's a substantial company, they have not had as long a time in the community to be known. They know in this particular business Larry Rule's dad is very well respected in the pool industry, and you know, I presume that with your knowledge of the family that you made reference to, is more through the father than the son. I mean, if it was 10 years ago, I don't know how old Larry Rule is, but....

With this showing, the court denied the motion and trial proceeded.

Canon 3C(1) of the Code of Judicial Conduct states:

(1) A judge should disqualify himself in a proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where:

(a) he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party;

In this proceeding, the judge felt compelled to announce on the record his close family connection with the principal of the appellant corporation. He then gave appellant time to consider this information and in response, appellant moved to recuse. Yet having made the invited motion, the court denied it. "Where the judge is conscious of any bias or prejudice which might influence his official action against any party to the litigation, he should decline to officiate whether challenged or not." McGregor...

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4 cases
  • Stevens v. Americana Healthcare Corp.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • February 8, 2006
    ...should have granted the motion for disqualification that it solicited and then offered to grant. See Pool Water Prods., Inc. v. Pools by L.S. Rule, 612 So.2d 705, 707 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993). It is true that the Fourth District has questioned its decision in Pool Water Products. See Cousins Res......
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • June 27, 2001
    ...and motion for disqualification based on the information revealed by the judge. Petitioner relies on Pool Water Products, Inc. v. Pools by L.S. Rule, 612 So.2d 705 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993). In that case the judge announced that he knew one of the parties because his parents had been close friend......
  • W.I. v. State, 97-1395
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • July 2, 1997
    ...with the case worker was legally sufficient in and of itself. Petitioner cited this court's decision in Pool Water Products, Inc. v. Pools by L.S. Rule, 612 So.2d 705 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993), where this court held that a trial judge should have recused himself after revealing that he had a clos......
  • Gyongyosi v. Carlisle, 93-1765
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • September 22, 1993
    ...Tenants Corp. PER CURIAM. The petition for writ of prohibition is granted on the authority of Pool Water Products, Inc. v. Pools by L.S. Rule, 612 So.2d 705 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993). HERSEY and GLICKSTEIN, JJ., STONE, J., concurs specially with opinion. STONE, Judge, concurring specially. I conc......
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