Federal judge who said he wouldn’t wish case on his worst enemy refuses to recuse himself



A federal judge who expressed annoyance with a case—saying he wouldn’t wish it on his worst enemy—said his comments don’t justify his recusal.

U.S. District Judge Robert W. Sweet said in an April 14 decision (PDF) that his comments were attempts at humor, and they don’t constitute bias against the whistleblower plaintiff, former JPMorgan Chase employee Jennifer Sharkey. Above the Law has highlights from a Law360 (sub. req.) story that summarized Sweet’s opinion.

Sweet made some of the comments after lawyers for Sharkey had suggested the case be reassigned to another judge because of a scheduling conflict. “I wouldn’t wish this case on my worst enemy,” Sweet said. “No, I’ve lived with it, and I suppose I can say I’ll probably die with it.”

Sweet’s other comment was, “I would do anything to get rid of this case.”

Sweet said the three comments, “though mistakenly made, uniformly and without reflection, do not demonstrate bias against the plaintiff but rather frustration at irresolution of the action.” The case has been ongoing for seven years.

“I have been a United States district court judge for 39 years,” wrote Sweet, who is 94. “Impartiality and the appearance of impartiality are required to resolve difficult competing claims and to seek just result. This standard applies in all cases, including this one.”

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