Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker has disqualified himself from the case between The Walt Disney Company and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. This came after lawyers for DeSantis submitted a motion for his disqualification saying previous comments he had made were grounds for his removal. Disney argued that this was simply shopping for a new judge since they didn’t like the current one.
Walker determined that he should disqualify himself for a reason entirely different than what the DeSantis legal team was pushing. Walker’s reasoning was that a family member owned Disney stock. This decision was made to make sure all was above board. Walker said the following about his determination to be disqualified:
Although Defendant’s motion to disqualify is without merit, I must consider a separate question of whether I should disqualify myself. On Friday, May 26, 2023, I learned, and later confirmed, that a relative within the third degree of relationship owns thirty shares of stock in Plaintiff’s parent corporation, The Walt Disney Company. Upon learning this information, I became obligated to engage in a separate inquiry pursuant to the Code of Conduct for United States Judges to determine if the financial interest of my third-degree relative “could be substantially affected by the outcome of [this] proceeding.” Canon 3C(1)(d)(iii).3 I have engaged in that inquiry and determined that disqualification from this proceeding is required
under the circumstances.
The case will now be heard by 46-year-old Orlando-born Republican Judge Allen C. Winsor, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in 2019.
The full Order on Disqualification can be read here:gov.uscourts.flnd_.463456.45.0_1
The lawsuit that Judge Winsor will hear was brought forth by Disney after Florida passed legislation that empowered the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District to nullify a development agreement that was signed between Disney and the former Reedy Creek Improvement District. The Walt Disney Company is arguing that the moves made in Florida were retaliatory and unconstitutional as government cannot punish a company for exercising its right to free speech.
Daps Magic will continue to cover this story and provide updates as they become available. What do you think of this most recent update? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.