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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:This is an original mandamus proceeding filed by Eduardo Chavez and Cesar De Leon. They seek mandamus relief from this court to compel respondent either to grant their recusal motions or to refer their recusal motions for another judge to decide. De Leon has criminal charges pending against him in respondent’s court. After the filing of this mandamus proceeding, Chavez pled guilty to the criminal charges that were pending against him in respondent’s court, so the court dismisses as moot his mandamus claim. HOLDING:The court conditionally grants mandamus relief to De Leon. Respondent argues that he did not violate Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 18a because he merely exercised his power to determine that De Leon’s recusal motion did not present a “prima facie case justifying recusal.” Respondent, therefore, claims that he had no duty to recuse himself or to refer the recusal motion for another judge to decide. The Court of Appeals stated that the law has developed in criminal cases “that a criminal trial judge may make an initial determination as to whether the recusal motion conforms with Rule 18a(a)” even though case law “in civil cases is starkly different.” When a recusal motion is timely filed, Rule 18a leaves a trial judge with no discretion-the trial judge must either recuse himself or refer the motion for another judge to decide. Any criminal cases to the contrary such as McClenan v. State, 661 S.W.2d 108 (Tex.Cr.App. 1983), are overruled. Rule 18a does not contemplate that a trial judge whose impartiality is questioned can nevertheless determine whether the allegations of bias against him state sufficient grounds for recusal. The court further decides that, under the unusual circumstances of this case, respondent’s bias in the De Leon case has been established as a matter of law. This decision is based on the record in this proceeding and on the prior judicial ruling on the Estrada recusal motion after respondent had the opportunity to be heard through counsel on this motion. The court notes that, according to the Court of Appeals, “the parties in effect conceded [at oral argument] that any alleged bias [from the Estrada case] would have persisted [in the De Leon case] in such a short time frame.” The court further notes that, by his refusal to comply with Rule 18a, respondent is responsible for having deprived De Leon and himself of an opportunity to litigate the issue of respondent’s bias in the De Leon case. Respondent, therefore, violated a ministerial duty by failing to recuse himself. The court reaffirms the general rule applied in Woodard v. Eighth Court of Appeals, 991 S.W.2d 795 (Tex.Cr.App. 1998), that courts “should not grant mandamus relief to the complaining party on a recusal motion under [Rule 18a] because the party has an adequate remedy at law by way of an appeal from the final judgment.” This rule, however, does not apply here because respondent’s bias has been established as a matter of law. OPINION:Hervey, J.; Meyers, Price, Womack, Johnson, Keasler, Holcomb, and Cochran, JJ., join. Keller, PJ., dissents.

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