Rule 25


Rule 25. Judge's Disability

(a) During Trial. Any judge regularly sitting in or assigned to the court may complete a jury trial if:

(1) the judge before whom the trial began cannot proceed because of death, sickness, or other disability; and

(2) the judge completing the trial certifies familiarity with the trial record.

(b) After a Verdict or Finding of Guilty.

(1) In General. After a verdict or finding of guilty, any judge regularly sitting in or assigned to a court may complete the court's duties if the judge who presided at trial cannot perform those duties because of absence, death, sickness, or other disability.

(2) Granting a New Trial. The successor judge may grant a new trial if satisfied that:

(A) a judge other than the one who presided at the trial cannot perform the post-trial duties; or

(B) a new trial is necessary for some other reason.

(As amended Feb. 28, 1966, eff. July 1, 1966; Mar. 9, 1987, eff. Aug. 1, 1987; Apr. 29, 2002, eff. Dec. 1, 2002.)

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1944

This rule is similar to Rule 63 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [28 U.S.C., Appendix]. See also, 28 U.S.C. [former] 776 (Bill of exceptions; authentication; signing of by judge).

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1966 Amendment

In September, 1963, the Judicial Conference of the United States approved a recommendation of its Committee on Court Administration that provision be made for substitution of a judge who becomes disabled during trial. The problem has become serious because of the increase in the number of long criminal trials. See 1963 Annual Report of the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, p. 114, reporting a 25% increase in criminal trials lasting more than one week in fiscal year 1963 over 1962.

Subdivision (a).—The amendment casts the rule into two subdivisions and in subdivision (a) provides for substitution of a judge during a jury trial upon his certification that he has familiarized himself with the record of the trial. For similar provisions see Alaska Rules of Crim. Proc., Rule 25; California Penal Code, §1053.

Subdivision (b).—The words “from the district” are deleted to permit the local judge to act in those situations where a judge who has been assigned from within the district to try the case is, at the time for sentence, etc., back at his regular place of holding court which may be several hundred miles from the place of trial. It is not intended, of course, that substitutions shall be made where the judge who tried the case is available within a reasonable distance from the place of trial.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1987 Amendment

The amendments are technical. No substantive change is intended.

Committee Notes on Rules—2002 Amendment

The language of Rule 25 has been amended as part of the general restyling of the Criminal Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only.

Rule 25(b)(2) addresses the possibility of a new trial when a judge determines that no other judge could perform post-trial duties or when the judge determines that there is some other reason for doing so. The current rule indicates that those reasons must be “appropriate.” The Committee, however, believed that a better term would be “necessary,” because that term includes notions of manifest necessity. No change in meaning or practice is intended.

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