Recuse Definition. What is Recuse?



Recuse refers to someone disqualifying themselves to be able to perform legal duties due to a conflict of interest or a lack of imartiality. Someone can choose to recuse themselves voluntarily or someone can be asked to recuse themselves.

At times someone can be challenged and forced to recuse themselves. It is a judge or other presiding official that is subject to recusal.  Anyone who is involved in determining if a case will move forward is subject for recusal.

This could be a judge, an attorney working on the prosecution, or a government official that has the ability to move the case forward, such as an attorney general.

  • The defense attorney introduced a motion asking the judge to recuse himself from the case.
  • The district attorney did the right thing by recusing himself from the case, as he was too close to it.

Who can ask a judge to recuse themselves?

Plaintiffs, defendants, and attorneys can all ask a judge or a presiding officer to recuse themselves. At any time before or during a trial  or investigation a judge or presiding official can choose to recuse themselves from a case.

There are three main reasons why a judge may choose to or be asked to recuse themselves:

1. There may be a conflict of interest. This means that the person presiding over the prosecution may have financial ties to the person or company being prosecuted.

This means that they or someone that they know could gain from someone or an organization involved in the case. In this situation given the fact that financial gain could be achieved by the outcome recusal is likely the correct action.

2. A person involved in the case may be a family member or friend, or someone the presiding officer has a negative relationship with. Whether it’s someone  they love or someone they hate, it can influence they way they rule on the case, therefore in these situations a judge should recuse themselves.

The presiding officer may also have been involved with someone in a professional way, or with a person or the company involved in the case. The judge doesn’t necessarily have to know the defendant, they may know a witness or someone else who is involved or may testify.

In these situations it is also important that there isn’t the appearance of a judge giving favor to someone they like, or disfavor to someone they don’t like.

3. Or they may feel that for personal reasons they will not be able to act impartially during the case. For example they may feel unable to be fair because of political affiliation, or the case may be involving something negative that the judge has experienced, such as the death of a child.

It is also possible that a judge worked on a case as a prosecutor and that would be another personal reason to recuse themselves.

Synonyms for Recuse:


Means that someone is not eligible to perform a certain activity or competition because of an infringement. While this word is often used to mean that someone has done something negative (like cheat) to become disqualified, at times someone can be disqualified due to no fault of their own.

  • The runner was disqualified from the race for committing a false start.
  • I hope that my past issues don’t disqualify me from getting this job.


Has multiple meanings. As a synonym to recuse, it refers to a person or thing that is dismissed as unqualified for failing to meet standards.

  • Your application was rejected because you do not meet the basic criteria necessary.
  • The attorney was rejected from the bar association for misconduct.

Antonyms for Recuse


Means to be entitled to a particular benefit or privilege. It can also mean that one is able to practice a certain profession after meeting the elements required for entry.

  • After passing the exam I am now qualified to be a real estate agent.
  • Now that we’ve moved into this new neighborhood we are qualified to use the pool.


May mean that someone or something is correct  or recognized as valid.

  • The manager accepted her conclusions about improving company production.
  • Your application has been successful, you have been accepted.

More for you:
What a Coincidence meaning with examples
What does IG mean? Is it Instagram?

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments