Disney Responds to DeSantis’ Request to Disqualify Judge in Ongoing Legal Battle

Last week, we told you about the motion that was filed by attorneys representing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District to disqualify Judge Mark E. Walker in a legal dispute with Disney. The attorneys argued that Walker’s statements a year ago gave “an appearance of partiality that would lead a reasonable observer to question whether the court is predisposed to ruling that the state retaliated against Disney.”

According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, Disney’s lawyers “argued Thursday that Walker’s remarks ‘didn’t meet the high standards for judges to be disqualified.’” They continued by saying that “court rules do not prescribe the hair-trigger disqualification standard defendants suggest.”

Walker’s comments were made as lawmakers pushed to strip Disney of its special governing status through the former Reedy Creek Improvement District last year.

Disney lawyers Thursday said a court rule about disqualification establishes a ‘high bar’ to prevent parties from trying to ‘effectively veto judges whose decisions they do not like and shop for a judge more to their liking.’ Walker didn’t make any improper communication with the press or the public about Disney’s lawsuit, they argued.

Orlando Sentinel | Disney

Disney continued their response by noting…

Judges are not prohibited from referring accurately to widely-reported news events during oral arguments, nor must they disqualify themselves if cases related to those events happen to come before them months later. Disqualification is allowed only if the prior comments expose an incapacity on the judge’s part to consider the new case on its own merits. The comments here come nowhere close to that standard


Earlier this week, Walker issued an order declaring that he would “take no further action until he ruled on the motion for disqualification.”

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