Federal Judge Richard Smoak has disqualified himself, and will not preside over the sexual harassment lawsuits filed against the State Attorney's office.
Brenda Keys and two other State Attorney employees filed the lawsuits, claiming former State Attorney Steve Meadows sexually harassed them and created a hostile work environment.
During a status conference Thursday the women's attorneys expressed concern that judge Smoak's late wife, Pam Smoak, was a longtime prosecutor in the State Attorneys office.
Pam Smoak was also Meadows' supervisor for several years.
Although Judge Smoak reassured the parties he had minimal contact with personnel from the State Attorneys office, he removed himself from the case.
Federal Judge Casey Rodgers of Pensacola will now preside. She'll schedule mediation to see if the two sides can settle the cases without going to trial.