Berger v. New York

PETITIONER: Victor L. Berger, et al.
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Chicago Federal Building

DOCKET NO.: 460
DECIDED BY: White Court (1916-1921)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

GRANTED: Dec 09, 1920
DECIDED: Jan 31, 1921

ADVOCATES:
Henry F. Cochems - for the petitioners
Seymour Stedman - for the petitioners
William L. Frierson - for the respondents

Facts of the case

Victor L. Berger, Adolph Germer, William F. Kruse, J. Louis Engdahl, and Irwin St. John Tucker were all indicted and charged with violating the Espionage Act of 1917. Their case was assigned to Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, and the defendants moved to have another judge preside over the trial under Section 21 of the Judicial Code, which states that, whenever a party to an action files an affidavit that the judge before whom the action is proceeding has a personal bias or prejudice, another judge will be designated to hear the case. In this case, the defendants provided an affidavit alleging that Judge Landis was biased against people of German descent, and several of the defendants were German. The motion was denied, Judge Landis heard the case, and the defendants were convicted. The defendants appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which certified questions of law about Section 21 to the Supreme Court.

Question

Does the filing of an affidavit of personal bias or personal prejudice require the judge in question to remove himself from the case?