After Making TV Comments, Judge Considers Recusing Himself

By William Vogeler, Esq. on September 13, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Here's another reason judges should not talk to the media: they might have to recuse themselves.

Judge Anthony Mariani should have known his comments on television could come back to bite him. He appeared on "Night Talk" in Pennsylvania and commented on a police shooting.

As fate and the assignment desk would have it, the officer was charged with criminal homicide and Mariani got the case. Now the judge has to decide his own fate.

"The Risk of Conflict"

The Model Code of Judicial Conduct says a "judge shall conduct the judge's personal and extrajudicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with the obligations of judicial office." Every judge knows that.

Mariani, of course, didn't know that Officer Michael Rosfeld's case would be assigned to him when he talked about it on the air. Still, what was he thinking?

Generally, judges should avoid talking to the media except to educate the public about judicial process. There is probably a "Judge Judy exception," but that's another story.

In the officer-shooting case, Mariani stepped in it when he talked about specifics. At a pre-trial hearing, the defendant's attorney said the judge speculated on the show that the shooting was not justified.

Recuse or Not to Recuse?

Mariani said he is inclined to stay on the case, claiming he can weigh the evidence fairly. However, he set a hearing for the defense attorney to make a formal motion to recuse.

Rosefeld faces charges for shooting an unarmed 17 year old who attempted to flee a traffic stop. During an investigation, the officer changed his story about whether he saw the victim with a gun.

Antown Rose Jr., who is black, was shot by the white officer in the elbow, back, and jaw. Witnesses recorded and posted footage on social media, leading to protests that shut down a major highway.

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