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Recusal

Ex parte Alabama Dept. of Revenue, [Ms. 1190826, Oct. 30, 2020], ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. 2020). The Court (Bolin, J.; Shaw, Wise, Bryan, Stewart, and Mitchell, JJ., concur; Parker, C.J., and Sellers, J., concur in the result) issues a writ of mandamus requiring Judge Hardaway to recuse himself in Greenetrack’s appeal of a $75 million dollar tax assessment.

“A mandamus petition is a proper method by which to seek review of a trial court’s denial of a motion to recuse. Ex parte City of Dothan Pers. Bd., 831So. 2d 1, 5 (Ala. 2002); Ex parte Cotton, 638 So. 2d 870, 872 (Ala. 1994), abrogated on other grounds, Ex parte Crawford, 686 So. 2d 196 (Ala. 1996). A trial judge’s ruling on a motion to recuse is reviewed to determine whether the judge exceeded his or her discretion. See Borders v. City of Huntsville, 875So. 2d 1168,1176 (Ala. 2003). The necessity for recusal is evaluated by the ‘totality of the facts’ and circumstances in each case. Dothan Pers. Bd.,831 So. 2d at 2. The test is whether ‘“facts are shown which make it reasonable for members of the public or a party, or counsel opposed to question the impartiality of the judge.’” In re Sheffield, 465 So. 2d 350, 355-56 (Ala. 1984)(quoting Acromag-Viking v. Blalock, 420 So. 2d 60, 61 (Ala.1982)).”

Ms. *8, quoting Ex parte George, 962 So. 2d 789, 791 (Ala. 2006). In issuing the writ, the Court explains

The State and Greenetrack have a lengthy history of litigation before Judge Hardaway; Judge Hardaway has recused himself in several cases involving these parties; in one case this Court ordered Judge Hardaway’s removal without the issue having been entertained in the circuit court; and Judge Hardaway recused himself in Greenetrack’s initial challenge to the tax assessments filed in the circuit court. We are mindful that issues in some of the earlier cases.... However, in light of the totality of the facts and circumstances surrounding the past decisions of recusal and removal and the litigiousness of the parties regarding past recusal requests, a reasonable, prudent person might question the impartiality of Judge Hardaway.

Ms. **16-17.

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