Karren v. Karren

The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s order denying husband’s motion to disqualify all civil and judicial authorities who are also members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

“Rule 63(b) of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a motion to disqualify “shall be accompanied by an affidavit stating facts sufficient to show bias, prejudice or conflict of interest.” Utah R. Civ. P. 63(b)(1)(A). Husband’s motion was not accompanied by the required affidavit containing alleged facts sufficient to show bias, prejudice, or conflict of interest by any judicial officer who participated in this case. “A litigant may move for a judge’s recusal upon presentation of an affidavit stating facts sufficient to show bias, prejudice or conflict of interest, but an allegation that is based on religious affiliation alone is not sufficient.” Treff v. Hinckley, 2001 UT 50, ¶ 10, 26 P.3d 212. Husband’s essential allegation that any judge or judicial officer is subject to disqualification based solely upon religious affiliation, without any allegation of specific facts demonstrating bias, prejudice, or conflict of interest lacks merit. Furthermore, as the district court correctly stated, the information relied upon by Husband had been in his possession throughout the five years since the initiation of divorce proceedings, and Husband identified no facts that had come into his possession within the twenty days prior to the motion’s filing. See Utah R. Civ. P. 63(b)(1)(B)(iii) (stating that a motion to disqualify must be filed within twenty days of the latest occurrence of the following: assignment of the action or hearing, the appearance of the party, or the date on which the moving party learns or should have learned of the grounds on which the motion to disqualify is based).”

Religious affiliation alone is insufficient to bring a claim seeking to excuse a commissioner, judge, or other judicial authority. This is a question that has come up in consultations before, and while the answer remains the same, this case gives a clear answer.

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