The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ordered a Syracuse, New York, federal judge removed from the case of a woman who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing her own daughter, finding that the judge improperly forced prosecutors to move for a lighter sentence.

The ruling, from a three-judge panel of the Manhattan-based appeals court, found Wednesday that U.S. District Judge David N. Hurd of the Northern District of New York had no legal basis for compelling prosecutors to file a motion for a reduced sentence based on the defendant’s cooperation.