UPDATE: The Eighth Judicial District Court will randomly reassign the Dan Rodimer election case after the candidate's lawyers expressed concern with Judge Sturman hearing the case. According to the decision, the reassignment is because of a "ministerial oversight" and not bias.
ORIGINAL STORY: A lawyer representing Republican congressional candidate Dan Rodimer is asking a judge to recuse herself from the case, saying she belongs to a Democratic group called Emerge.
Rodimer is suing to overturn the certified results of his race against Democrat incumbent Rep. Susie Lee.
During a hearing on Monday, Judge Gloria Sturman insisted there is no potential conflict.
"Although I live in this particular congressional district," said Judge Sturman, "I think I may have met Ms. Lee, but I don't know her."
"I live on the same street as Mr. Rodimer," she added.
The lawyer then said that it didn't matter and the question is whether an appearance of bias exists, to which Judge Sturman replied, "Well I am Mr. Rodimer's neighbor, isn't that an appearance of bias?"
Rodimer's representation reiterated that Sturman is "involved, at least politically, with a group that supports [Rodimer's] opponent in the election challenge."
Watch the hearing in full below:
Citing "three or four" judicial ethics, he again asked the judge to recuse herself.
Sturman then referenced Nevada revised statute 1.230, the statue that lists grounds for disqualifying judges, and read several out loud in the courtroom, saying none applied, but that she believed the first item (below) is what the lawyer was referring to in his request to recuse the judge:
1. A judge shall not act as such in an action or proceeding when the judge entertains actual bias or prejudice for or against one of the parties to the action.
"So the question is," she said, "whether the court can be fair here. And this is, I guess, my question to you."
"Is it automatically assumed that every Republican thinks the same way, every Democrat thinks the same way," she asked.
"In Nevada, judges are allowed to belong to political parties," she went on to say. "Even though we don't run as partisans, there are judicial ethics opinions that state that judges can belong to political parties."
"So for that reason, I do not think that belonging to a political party is grounds to disqualify a judge," she concluded. "Under [Nevada revised statute 1.230] I do not think there are any grounds there."
She then referenced the canons, or codes, of judicial ethics, and reiterated that she does not know either party personally. She also said she voted in person and pointed out that Rodimer's complaint takes issue with mail-in ballots.
"We are talking about a legal issue. What you are saying is that I cannot be fair to Mr. Rodimer because he and I, apparently, are members of different parties," said Sturman.
Rodimer's lawyer disagreed.
"Respectfully, if I might," he said, "you have gone beyond joining a political party -- which is certainly in your right, I am familiar with the canons -- you joined a group called Emerge."
"It's stated purpose," he continued, "according to the internet and a printout, are to flip the house. You've actually joined a group inside the Democratic party whose stated purpose is to support Susie Lee in becoming a congresswoman in the House."
"People could reasonably question your bias," he said. "Whether you feel it or not is not the standard. If you believe you could be fair is not the standard."
"The standard is, could it reasonably be questioned from outside," he said. "And it certainly is reasonably questionable in my mind."
"And certainly anybody who hears this will also reasonably question whether you are the best judge for this," he concluded.
He then said there other judges who could easily hear this case, "many of whom are apolitical."
The case is being referred to the chief justice who will determine if a new judge will need to be assigned and is in recess until then.
In the lawsuit, Rodimer claims "substantial" voting problems and fraud and questions the accuracy of the machine used to verify signatures. No evidence has been provided to prove these claims.