from the Howard Superior Court. The Honorable William C.
Menges, Jr., Judge. Trial Court Cause No. 34D01-1510-F5-894
Attorney for Appellant Donald E.C. Leicht Kokomo, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Jesse R. Drum Deputy Attorney General
Shepard, Senior Judge
Appellant William Patrick Cheek contends that the trial judge
in his case should have recused in light of the Prosecuting
Attorney's participation on the judge's re-election
committee. Like our colleagues in the parallel appeal of
Abney v. State, we conclude that the Code of
Judicial Conduct did not require recusal.
and Procedural History
In October 2015, the State charged Cheek with three felony
drug offenses. After Cheek failed to appear for a February
2016 pre-trial conference, the State charged him with the
additional offense of failure to appear. At his jury trial on
that charge, Cheek filed a motion to recuse. Once the jury
was selected, but out of its presence, the trial court held a
hearing on Cheek's motion and thereafter denied the
motion. Cheek was found guilty of failing to appear, a Level
6 felony,  and was sentenced to 730 days executed. He
now appeals the denial of his motion to recuse, his
conviction, and his sentence.
Recusal of Trial Judge
Cheek contends that the fact that the Howard County
Prosecutor was on Judge William Menges' re-election
committee demonstrates a personal bias by Judge Menges such
that his recusal was required.
This Court has recently described the standard for our review
of decisions on motions to recuse. Writing for a unanimous
panel, Judge Brown said:
A ruling upon a motion to recuse rests within the sound
discretion of the trial judge and will be reversed only upon
a showing of abuse of that discretion. An abuse of discretion
occurs when the trial court's decision is against the
logic and effect of the facts and circumstances before it.
When reviewing a trial judge's decision not to disqualify
h[im]self, we presume that the trial judge is unbiased.
'In order to overcome that presumption, the appellant
must demonstrate actual personal bias.' In addition, the
mere appearance of bias and partiality may require recusal if
an objective person, knowledgeable of all the circumstances,
would have a rational basis for doubting the judge's
impartiality. Upon review of a judge's failure to recuse,
we will assume that a judge would have complied with the
obligation to recuse had there been any reasonable question
concerning impartiality, unless we discern circumstances
which support a contrary conclusion.
Bloomington Magazine, Inc. v. Kiang, 961 N.E.2d 61,
63-64 (Ind.Ct.App. 2012) (citations omitted).
Although the Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct fixes a
judge's obligations, these obligations do not create a
freestanding right of enforcement for private parties;
rather, each judge is to enforce these obligations against
himself or herself. Mathews v. State, 64 N.E.3d 1250
(Ind.Ct.App. 2016), trans. denied. Yet, we note the
relevant canons as a backdrop to the issue at hand. Canon 2
directs that Indiana judges perform the duties of their
judicial office impartially, competently, and diligently.
More particularly, Rule 2.11 concerns disqualification and
provides in relevant part:
(A) A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in any
proceeding in which the judge's impartiality* might
reasonably be questioned, including but not ...