Judge in Countrywide case forced to recuse himself for having HUGE conflict of interest

February 05, 2010, 05:44 PM EST
By Cary O’Reilly
Feb. 5 (Bloomberg) — A Florida judge was ordered to remove himself from a foreclosure proceeding by Bank of America Corp.’s Countrywide unit after the homeowner claimed the judge received a discount loan from an affiliate of the mortgage lender.

Circuit Judge Hugh Carithers in Jacksonville, Florida, must enter a recusal order and ask Chief Circuit Judge Donald Moran to pick a replacement, a district court of appeals ruled today.

Joseph W. Mines Jr., who is representing himself in the foreclosure proceeding, alleged the judge had received favorable interest rates not available to the public in his own dealings with a lender affiliated with Countrywide, court records show. Mines’s home was just about to be sold when he filed his claim seeking the judge’s removal, according to the case docket.

“This court finds these facts, taken as true as they must be, would prompt a reasonably prudent person to fear that he or she would not obtain a fair and impartial hearing,” the appeals court in Tallahassee, Florida, said its ruling.

Pat Ryan, a courtroom clerk for Carithers, said she hadn’t seen the ruling and couldn’t comment. Directory assistance had no phone listing for Joseph Mines in Jacksonville.

The case is Countrywide v. Mines, 2007-CA-6852, Fo

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