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Colorado Supreme Court Opinions
October 17, 2011

No. 10SC330. People in the Interest of A.G., and Concerning C.M.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel—Judicial Disqualification—Appearance of Impropriety.
The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals’ order requiring the trial court to determine on remand whether respondent received ineffective assistance of counsel because her attorney did not timely file a motion to disqualify the trial judge, whose clerk was related to a material witness in the case. The court also vacated the court of appeals’ directions to the chief judge to transfer the case to another judge.

Without deciding what is required to prevail on an ineffective assistance claim, the Court acknowledged that, at the least, an allegation of prejudice is necessary. Moreover, the Court held that when an ineffective assistance of counsel claim is premised on an attorney’s failure to file a motion for disqualification, the prejudice element cannot be satisfied without an allegation that the judge actually was biased. Because respondent’s motion for disqualification was based entirely on an appearance of impropriety, rather than a claim of actual bias, it failed to satisfy the prejudice element. Accordingly, the Court found it unnecessary to remand for additional findings on ineffective assistance.

Colorado Supreme Court Opinions