There has been much talk in the news recently about judges who supposedly should recuse themselves. Donald Trump, the serial litigator, has asked every judge in his criminal cases, except one, to recuse themselves. But, his motions have generally been based on pretty specious grounds. What are good, solid grounds for recusal? We get a look at some pretty good grounds in a case involving Delaware lawyer, Frank G.X. Pileggi.

Pileggi alleges that when he worked at a firm called Fox Rothschild, he got cross-ways with another member of the firm, Gregory Williams in 2008. At the time, both lawyers worked for Fox Rothschild. Pileggi co-hosted a fundraiser for a candidate for governor. Mr. Williams became irate when Pileggi omitted his name from the list of hosts. Williams was on the organizing committee at the time. According to Pileggi, Williams barged into Pileggi’s office, and stiff-armed him with both arms, knocking Pileggi backwards and knocking over several items.


The two antagonists then took the matter to the privacy of a loading area in their building. Williams challenged Pileggi to a fight. Pileggi, believing the matter would be better resolved more peacefully, tried to walk away. But, Williams followed close behind, hurling insults and taunts at Pileggi.

Now, years later, Mr. Williams is a federal judge. He is presiding over a case in which Mr. Pileggi represents one of the parties. Lawyer PIleggi asked Judge Williams to recuse himself. The Judge denied the motion. The Judge wrote in his order: “It is highly doubtful that any reasonable person, with knowledge of all the facts, would reasonably question the judge’s impartiality.” (No, of course not, Judge. Who could think such a thing?)

Now, Mr. Pileggi has asked the Judge to reconsider that denial. Is this grounds for recusal? I would think so. But, whether these are sufficient grounds or not, they are far, far better grounds than anything offered by any of Mr. Trump’s many different lawyers. See ABA Bar Journal report here for more information.