to disqualify (oneself) as a judge in a particular case; broadly : to remove (oneself) from participation to avoid a conflict of interest
The judge recused herself because she was the sister-in-law of the defendant.
“Planning commissioners in particular have been accused of conflict of interest for being involved professionally in too many projects that come before the commission. Many commissioners recuse themselves when considering projects.” — From an article by Ed Stych in the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal, January 18, 2013
DID YOU KNOW?
“Recuse” is derived from the Middle French word “recuser,” which comes from Latin “recusare,” meaning “to refuse.” English speakers began using “recuse” with the meaning “to refuse or reject” in the 14th century. By the 15th century, the term had acquired the meaning “to challenge or object to (a judge).” The current legal use of “recuse” as a term specifically meaning “to disqualify (oneself) as a judge” didn’t come into frequent use until the mid-20th century, however. Broader applications soon followed from this sense—you can now recuse yourself from such things as debates and decisions as well as court cases.