In criminal cases, if by reason of death, sickness or other disability, the judge before whom a trial has commenced is unable to proceed with the trial, any other judge regularly sitting in or assigned to the court, upon certifying familiarity with the record of the trial, may proceed with and finish the trial.28
In civil cases, if for any reason the judge before whom any matter has been tried or heard becomes unable to proceed, then any other judge may perform such duties upon certifying familiarity with the record and determining that the proceeding may be completed without prejudice to the parties. In a non-jury case, the successor judge must, at the request of any party, recall any witness whose testimony is material and disputed and who is available to testify without undue burden. The successor judge has discretionary authority to recall any other witness. If the other judge determines that he or she cannot perform the necessary duties for any reason, that other judge has discretionary authority to grant a new trial or rehearing.29
28. Super. Ct. Crim. R. 25(a); Comm. Pls. Ct. Crim. R. 25(a); Fam. Ct. Crim. R. 25(a) (may also substitute stipulation of the parties for certification); J.P. Ct. Cr. R. 16(a); Ald. & M. Ct. R. 15(a).
29. Ch. Ct. R. 63; Super. Ct. Civ. R. 63; Comm. Pls. Ct. Civ. R. 63; Fam. Ct. Civ. R. 63; J.P. Ct. Civ. R. 21.
© 2010 David L. Finger