Byline: Derek Hawkins
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Case Name: United States of America v. James Atwood
Case No.: 18-2113
Officials: WOOD, Chief Judge, and KANNE and BARRETT, Circuit Judges.
Focus: Abuse of Discretion Failure to Recuse
Judge Colin S. Bruce sentenced James Atwood to 210 months' imprisonment for federal drug crimes. While Atwood's case was pending, Judge Bruce improperly communicated ex parte with the prosecuting U.S. Attorney's Office about other cases. The federal recusal statute requires a judge to recuse himself from any proceeding in which his impartiality may reasonably be questioned. The government concedes that the disclosure of Judge Bruce's ex parte correspondence invited doubt about his impartiality in proceedings involving the Office. Because of the judge's broad discretion in sentencing, we conclude that...