U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has abruptly recused herself from a high-profile case in which Facebook had recently proposed to pay at least $10 million to settle accusations that it violated users’ privacy when it used their photos for “sponsored stories” without their permission.
The recusal, which was first reported in a tweet by Reuters reporter Dan Levine, was confirmed in a one-page court filing in which Koh stated that the case was referred to an assignment committee that would assign it to another judge.
Koh’s announcement is remarkable because she has been presiding over the case for more than a year and because the recusal comes just a day before a scheduled hearing in San Jose to discuss the proposed settlement.
Under the terms of the settlement, Facebook will pay a few thousand dollars to the lead plaintiffs in the case while lawyers and privacy advocacy groups will get the rest. (For more details, see “Facebook’s $10 million privacy payout: why you get nothing.”)
There have been no reports so far about why Koh stepped away from the case and court records do not show any request for recusal. The most common reason for judges to recuse themselves are when they are acquainted with one of the parties in the case or when they have a financial interest in the case’s outcome.
Here’s a copy of the recusal order: