(Visit here for my first look at 170.6.) Everyone knows that a lawyer must understand the legal thresholds applicable to their cases. However, it is just as important that a lawyer understands their judge—their background, their preferences, their tendencies. This is the information through which a lawyer can map an effective litigation strategy, a strategy that includes careful consideration of whether or not to “ding” a particular judge, meaning request assignment to a different judge through a CCP 170.6 peremptory challenge.
Enacted in 1957, Section 170.6 of the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) granted litigants the opportunity to peremptorily disqualify a superior court judge from presiding over their case. This disqualification requires no justification other than a litigant stating that the assigned judge is prejudiced against the attorney, the attorney’s firm, or the attorney’s client. That’s right, no facts are needed to prove any of these allegations. As long as it is timely filed, the disqualification is granted as a matter of right.