The Current State of Pennsylvania Law on Judicial Recusal - CLE / CJE

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This course will discuss the judicial recusal process in Pennsylvania and relevant cases. Attendees will receive 1 CLE or CJE Ethics credit.

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This program will cover the timing and progression of motions for recusal through the trial court and on appeal, exploring relevant sections of the Pennsylvania Code of Judicial Conduct and Pennsylvania case law.

Our presenters are Superior Court Judge Carolyn Nichols, Court of Common Pleas President Judge Idee Fox and Ryan McCarthy, Esq., a partner at Morgan Lewis.


1. How to ask a judge to recuse. | Ryan McCarthy (12:00 PM - 12:20 PM)

  • Mr. McCarthy will cover when and how to ask a judge (or judges) to recuse and the professional responsibilities of counsel in that process. He will also review some noted cases regarding recusal in civil litigation, including Reilly by Reilly v. Southeastern Transportation Auth (1985).

2. What a trial judge should consider when a motion is filed and applicable judicial codes of conduct. | Judge Idee Fox (12:20 PM - 12:40 PM)

  • Judge Fox will discuss Rules 2.2, 2.3, 2.4 and 2.9 of the Pennsylvania Code of Judicial Conduct in the context of a trial judge’s consideration of recusal issues. She will also discuss Commonwealth v. McCullough (2019).

3. Standards of appellate review of recusal issues and relevant appellate cases in Pennsylvania. | Judge Carolyn Nichols (12:40 PM - 1:00 PM)

  • And finally, Judge Nichols will address the appellate review of recusal issues, focusing on Commonwealth v. Blakeney (2018), Commonwealth v. Williams (2019), and Commonwealth v. Bernal (2018).


Ryan P. McCarthy, Partner at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP

Ryan McCarthy focuses his practice on representation of individuals and organizations in white collar litigation and government investigations and complex commercial litigation. He has represented companies and corporate executives in a wide range of industries, including life sciences, healthcare, retail, technology, and financial services.

Judge Idee C. Fox, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas

Judge Idee C. Fox sits on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, where she has served since 1995. She grew up in Philadelphia graduating from the Philadelphia High School for Girls. Judge Fox earned her B.A. from the S.U.N.Y at Stony Brook and her J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis. After graduating law school Judge Fox returned to Philadelphia and worked in private practice until being elected to Common Pleas Court in 1995. She was retained in 2005 and again in 2015. Judge Fox initially served in the Domestic Relation branch of Family Court from 1995 to 2008, and as Supervising Judge of Domestic Relations from 2001 to 2005. She was awarded the Herbert R. Weiman, Jr. Award from the Family Law Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association. In January 2008, she was reassigned to the Civil Trial Division and from 2016 until November of 2018 she served as the Supervising Judge of the Civil Division. Judge Fox was elected to a five year term as President Judge of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas commencing in November 2018. She currently serves as Chair of the Administrative Governing Board. Judge Fox is Co-Chair of the Education Committee of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges.

Judge Carolyn H. Nichols, Pennsylvania Superior Court

Judge Carolyn H. Nichols, was elected to a ten year term in PA Superior Court in 2017. Previously, she was elected to the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court in 2011, and conducted felony jury trials in criminal court, with equal justice, protecting the rights of crime victims, and the accused. She supports activities promoting positive reentry to prevent recidivism. Judge Nichols attended Philadelphia public schools, and received the Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree from Temple University in 1978. She graduated from Temple University Law School in 1985, with the Juris Doctor Degree, and received the Masters in Law Degree (LLM) in Trial Advocacy from Temple University Law School in 1994. Additionally, Judge Nichols obtained the Masters in Business Administration Degree (MBA), from Eastern University in 2002. Her professional career spans over twenty years of public service, including Legislative Assistant to former Philadelphia Councilwoman, Augusta Clarke; Assistant City Solicitor, and Deputy Secretary of External Affairs for the Mayor’s Office, in which she managed the City’s federal issues, including appropriations, and legislative advocacy.

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