Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Objection, your Honor

Hospital wants to keep judge

who worked for its lawyers

By David Baker
Posted Saturday, March 17, 2012

A lawyer for Samaritan Hospital has filed an objection to a request that the judge assigned to a lawsuit filed by the hospital remove himself from the case.

The motion for recusal asks acting state Supreme Court Justice Andrew G. Ceresia to step aside because he worked for five years for the law firm that represented Samaritan Hospital in the 2005 lawsuit against the hospital over the death of Lisa Baker.

In the current lawsuit, the hospital claims that its reputation is being damaged by the use of the Internet domain name ‘northeast health’ on a Web page that points to stories about medical-malpractice lawsuits that have not been reported by newspapers, and by the placement on the site of a logo. A counterclaim to the suit seeks damages for the alleged withholding of medical records during the first lawsuit – when the hospital was represented by the judge’s former employer.

A decision on whether to step aside is made in this instance solely by the judge, who is expected to consider not only his ability to be fair, but also whether remaining on the case would create an appearance of partiality.

In their affidavit, Samaritan’s lawyers claim that the motion for recusal was deliberately delayed until after the judge had become familiar with the case. But while the reason they claim for the timing of the request is mere speculation, it would also mean that Ceresia would have had an opportunity to recuse himself. He hasn't done so.

Now he has to make a choice and state it in writing. If he decides to stay, every ruling he makes that favors the hospital will be viewed in the light of his past employment, which could be cited in an appeal.

And even if he steps aside, the hospital is now on permanent public record as wanting to keep a judge who worked for a firm whose actions on behalf of the hospital are now an issue in the current litigation.

Read the hospital's affidavit at this link:


NEXT: Why fighting all malpractice lawsuits and suppressing news about them is against the public interest