United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER ON REVIEW OF REQUEST TO RECUSE
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
has filed a civil rights proceeding under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, which action was assigned to the Honorable Richard A.
Jones of this District. The matter was referred to United
States Magistrate Judge James P. Donohue. To date, Judge
Donohue's rulings in Plaintiff's case have been
confined to the sufficiency of Plaintiff's pleadings.
to Judge Donohue, thus far, Plaintiff has failed to
successfully submit a complaint articulating claims which can
properly be heard in federal court; specifically, he has
continually asserted claims which were inextricably
intertwined with his state criminal court proceedings, in
addition to failing to articulate the “extraordinary
circumstances” which would allow a federal court to
intervene in a pending state criminal prosecution.
See Dkts. #6 and #21.
responded by filing a “Motion Pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
455(A), (B), (1)” and “Motion Pursuant to 28
U.S.C. 144” (Dkts. #33 and #34) requesting the recusal of
the Magistrate Judge. Judge Donohue, upon review of
Plaintiff's motion, declined to recuse himself. Dkt. #35.
In accordance with the Local Rules of this District, the
matter has been referred to the Presiding Judge for review of
that decision. LCR 3(e).
to 28 U.S.C. § 455(a), a judge of the United States
shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his
impartiality “might reasonably be questioned.”
Federal judges also shall disqualify themselves in
circumstances where they have a personal bias or prejudice
concerning a party or personal knowledge of disputed
evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding. 28 U.S.C. §
both 28 U.S.C. §144 and 28 U.S.C. § 455, recusal of
a federal judge is appropriate if “a reasonable person
with knowledge of all the facts would conclude that the
judge's impartiality might reasonably be
questioned.” Yagman v. Republic Insurance, 987
F.2d 622, 626
Cir.1993). This is an objective inquiry concerned with
whether there is the appearance of bias, not whether there is
bias in fact. Preston v. United States, 923 F.2d
731, 734 (9th Cir.1992); United States v. Conforte,
624 F.2d 869, 881 (9th Cir.1980). In Liteky v.
United States, 510 U.S. 540 (1994), the United
States Supreme Court further explained the narrow basis for
[J]udicial rulings alone almost never constitute a valid
basis for a bias or partiality motion. . . . [O]pinions
formed by the judge on the basis of facts introduced or
events occurring in the course of the current proceedings, or
of prior proceedings, do not constitute a basis for a bias or
partiality motion unless they display a deep seated
favoritism or antagonism that would make fair judgment
impossible. Thus, judicial remarks during the course of a
trial that are critical or disapproving of, or even hostile
to, counsel, the parties, or their cases, ordinarily do not
support a bias or partiality challenge.
Id. at 555.
cites no reason or evidence in support of his position other
than the rulings of Judge Donohue. He claims that Judge
Donohue is “trying to protect the Seattle Police
Department and their officers, the City of Seattle, and King
County and their employee's several officers who work for
the Seattle Police Department [sic].” Dkt. #33
at 1. He presents no evidence of this (the Court can only
speculate that Plaintiff has interpreted the refusal to
accept his filings to date as an attempt to
“shield” the Defendants from liability), and a
review of Judge Donohue's rulings reveals only that he
has extended every effort in attempting to help Plaintiff
understand what he needs to do in order to file a complaint
which states a proper cause of action.
judge's conduct in the context of past or pending
judicial proceedings does not constitute the requisite bias
under 28 U.S.C. § 144 or § 455 if it is prompted
solely by information that the judge received in the context
of the performance of his duties. Bias is almost never
established simply because the judge issued adverse rulings
against a party. If Plaintiff believes that Judge Donohue has
committed legal error in his rulings, he is entitled to make
that argument on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of
Appeals; he is not entitled to recusal of the judge who made
Court finds no evidence upon which to reasonably question
Judge Donohue's impartiality and AFFIRMS his denial of
Plaintiff's requests that he recuse himself (Dkts. #33
Clerk SHALL provide copies of this Order to Plaintiff and ...