Lawyer claims Jewishness reason Dutch judge should recuse self

Cnaan Liphshiz

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — A Dutch court threw out a lawyer’s motion to have  a judge recused because of her and a rival attorney’s Jewish origins.

A review panel of the Court of Amsterdam on Tuesday rejected Jose Coenraad’s motion to have Judge A.R. Sturhoofd recused from a family court case taking place in The Hague in which Coenraad was arguing against Herman Loonstein, a Dutch Jewish lawyer from Amsterdam, the news site reported Wednesday.

In her motion for recusal dated Feb. 12, Coenraad cited the fact that Sturhoofd was a member of the Liberal Jewish Community of Amsterdam, whereas Loonstein was the founder Federative Jewish Netherlands – a lobby group representing Jewish interests.

She also noted that a claim filed and resolved some years ago by several Jewish families for restitution of property stolen during the Holocaust from a deceased woman, who has family ties both to the judge and Loonstein.


The two Jewish groups in which the judge and Loonstein were active, Coenraad argued, “deal with the retrieval of art stolen from Jews during World War II and bank property, among other issues, and are in contact with one another. Even if the family ties [between Loonstein and Sturhoofd] may be distant, because of the appearance of bias, the judge should have recused herself,” Conraad wrote.

Loonstein said the case was “unacceptable, and the first time in the Netherlands after World War II that a Jewish judge is asked to recuse herself because she is Jewish.”

The review panel’s ruling did not analyze Coenraad’s specific claims, but said she failed to sufficiently substantiate her claims of bias on the judge’s part.

In 2013, the bar association of Lyon in France disbarred a lawyer for filing a motion to disqualify a Jewish judge because of his origins.

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