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Becker v. Becker

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

September 18, 2019

Omer Becker, Petitioner,
v.
Dana Lee Becker, Respondent.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          A Case of Original Jurisdiction-Prohibition. Lower Tribunal No. 18-28387

          Law Offices of Robin Bresky, and Jeremy Dicker and Robin Bresky (Boca Raton), for petitioner.

          Nancy A. Hass, P.A., and Nancy A. Hass (Fort Lauderdale), for respondent.

          Before SALTER, SCALES and LINDSEY, JJ.

          PER CURIAM.

         Omer Becker (the "husband") petitions this Court to prohibit the trial judge from further presiding over this dissolution of marriage action. We grant the petition because the husband's verified disqualification motion was legally sufficient.

         I. RELEVANT FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND[1]

         On December 4, 2018, the husband filed a petition for dissolution of marriage from Dana Lee Becker (the "wife") in the lower court. Immediately following a June 17, 2019 hearing on various motions, the husband learned that the wife's counsel had, several years prior, represented the trial judge in the trial judge's contested divorce case.

         The following day, June 18, 2019, the husband filed a verified motion for disqualification of the trial judge. In his motion, the husband asserted that the previous attorney-client relationship (between the wife's counsel and the trial judge) had not been disclosed by either the trial judge or the wife's counsel. The husband asserted that, as a result of the nondisclosure, (i) the husband was concerned that the trial judge may have a bias in favor of the wife's counsel, and (ii) the husband had a reasonable fear that the husband would not receive a fair trial.

         On July 3, 2019, the trial court summarily denied the husband's disqualification motion as legally insufficient. The husband now seeks a writ from this Court prohibiting the trial judge from continuing to preside over this case. We have jurisdiction.[2]

         II. ANALYSIS

         Canon 3E of Florida's Code of Judicial Conduct provides, in relevant part, as follows:

(1) A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but ...

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