The Tampa Bay Times broke this story on Monday, January 23rd in regard to “Pinellas judge removed from the case over alleged animosity toward defense lawyer”
This article featured a case involving Judge William Burgess III and criminal defense lawyer Sean McQuaid in which Mr. Burgess was removed from the case by a petition from Mr. McQuaid.
Sean McQuaid has offered the following response to this situation: “This was an action that no lawyer wants to have to resort to. However, a long-standing history of animosity with this particular judge left me with no other option to ensure my clients received the fair trial they deserved. That is always first and foremost my professional and personal obligation in upholding the law”
This situation was unfortunate, but I felt like I had no other choice. I felt like I was forced into a corner. I was in a situation where I had clashed with this judge while we were both lawyers and I did not see the situation improving once he became a judge. He voluntarily recused himself form several of my cases. While we at attorneys gatherings, he would not even acknowledge me. This led me to believe that something was amiss. I knew I had an obligation to inform my clients of this history. In the present case, the judge suddenly refused to remove himself form the case. He gave no reason and wouldn’t speak to me. I called for him, called for his superior judges, but no one could do anything to give me answers. Left, with no other choice, I had to make the history between us public. This was not done to attack the judge, even though I was disappointed by how he handled the situation. This action was taken solely to protect my clients and to avoid having to explain to every one in the future about what had happened. I knew that if a client was treated unfairly by this judge, he or she would always wonder if the animosity between myself and the judge was the cause. The situation was untenable and I was left with no other choice than to do what id did. Hopefully, my clients and peers will respect my decision.