A Florida appellate court recently held that a judge of compensation claims (JCC) erred in denying a claimant’s motion to disqualify himself because of statements and findings the judge had made in an unrelated case concerning the claimant’s attorney. According to an article originally published in Lex & Verum, in that earlier case, the JCC entered an order imposing sanctions against the claimant’s attorney for his conduct in pursuit of a claimant-paid attorney’s fee. The JCC stated that the claimant’s attorney had made “false and misleading written statements” and indicated the attorney had a “willful and conscious intent” to overcharge for legal services; he also referred him to the Florida Bar. The appellate court acknowledged that the fact that the JCC had referred this attorney for unprofessionalism was not in and of itself a reason for dismissal, but that the “connotations of the language chosen by the JCC” showed potential personal bias.
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