The short answer is it depends on where you are. In Illinois you may be able to get a new judge if the case is brand new. Otherwise, whether you are in Illinois or Kentucky, you probably are stuck with the judge that is assigned to your case.
Illinois will allow a litigant to move to exclude the judge first assigned to the case without having to state any specific reason as long as the judge has not yet made any substantive rulings on the case. Once the judge has made any significant rulings on your case, you will only be able to have the judge removed for cause.
Removing a judge for cause requires something more than that you simply do not like the judge or that you do not like the earlier rulings of the judge. Essentially, it is very difficult to have a judge removed for cause. If you believe, and can show, that the judge has a conflict of interest, such as being a close friend or relative of the opposing party, then you may have a basis for asking the judge to recuse (step aside) from your case. Keep in mind that the judge you believe has the conflict of interest, is the same judge who will be deciding whether to recuse from the case. In other words, you better be sure that you have a sufficient basis for seeking the recusal or you might only succeed in getting on the judge's bad side right at the beginning of your case. There are ways to appeal the judge's decision not to recuse, but it does not succeed very often because of the great deal of deference given to the trial judge's decision. In the event that the judge does recuse, the chief judge for the circuit (IL) or region (KY) will assign another judge to hear the case.
If you believe it may be necessary to ask the trial judge to recuse from your case, you must bring that up and discuss it with your attorney as early as possible. If you wait too long, you may inadvertently waive the right to ask for the judge to recuse or run the risk of receiving a negative decision from a less than impartial tribunal. This area can be quite tricky to navigate and you will need to discuss the situation with a lawyer you trust.
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