(251) 299-0101

JUDICIAL RECUSAL & AMENDMENT OF JUDGMENTS - WALKER V. WALKER

Walker v. Walker, [Ms. 2140610, June 10, 2016] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2016) (On reh'g). This is a divorce case. One issue was whether the trial judge should have recused. The Court of Civil Appeals holds:

Adverse rulings are insufficient to establish bias by the trial judge that would necessitate recusal. ...

Ms. *20, quoting Landry v. Landry, 182 So. 3d 553, 556 (Ala. Civ. App. 2014).

Another issue concerned the circuit court's sua sponte order amending the divorce judgment to award additional money as property settlement during the pendency of a post-judgment motion. The opinion speaks to the propriety of such an order:

"Although a trial court generally loses jurisdiction to amend its judgment 30 days after the entry of judgment (see Ex parte Owen, 420 So. 2d 80, 81 (Ala. 1982)), a trial court retains the power to correct sua sponte any error in its judgment that comes to its attention during the pendency of a party's Rule 59(e) motion to alter, amend, or vacate the judgment, regardless of whether the error was alleged or not alleged in the motion. See, e.g., Varley v. Tampax, Inc., 855 F.2d 696, 699 (10th Cir. 1988); Charles v. Daley, 799 F.2d 343, 347 (7th Cir. 1986); Arnold v. Sullivan, 131 F.R.D. 129, 133 (N.D. Ind. 1990)."

Henderson v. Koveleski, 717 So. 2d 803, 806 (Ala. Civ. App. 1998). See Parker v. Parker, 10 So. 3d 567, 569 (Ala. Civ. App. 2008) (noting that the trial court retained jurisdiction to correct an error in its judgment while a party's postjudgment motion was pending); Charles v. Daley, 799 F.2d 343, 347 (7th Cir. 1986) ("A judge may enlarge the issues to be considered in acting on a timely motion under Rule 59[Fed. R. Civ. P.]."); and Varley v. Tampax, Inc., 855 F.2d 696, 699 (10th Cir. 1988) ("The salient fact is that a motion to amend judgment was timely filed. Such gave the [trial court] the power and jurisdiction to amend the judgment for any reason, if it chose to do so, and it was not limited to the ground set forth in the motion itself.").[fn] See also Ex parte DiGeronimo, [Ms. 2140611, Oct. 9, 2015 __ So. 3d __, __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2015).

A trial court's jurisdiction to amend its judgment while a party's postjudgment motion is pending does not extend to granting new relief that was requested after the judgment had already been entered. Burgess v. Burgess, 99 So. 3d 1237 (Ala. Civ. App. 2012).

Ms. *26-27.

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