United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
CHRISTINE D. HAUCK, Plaintiff,
PHILLIP D. WALKER, Defendant.
ORDER DECLINING TO RECUSE, FORWARDING PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION TO CHIEF JUDGE, AND RENOTING DEFENDANTS'
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Christine
Hauck's (“Hauck”) motion for recusal (Dkt.
59). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support
of the motion and the remainder of the file and hereby rules
August 23, 2013, Plaintiff Christine Hauck filed a motion to
proceed in forma pauperis. Dkt. 1. On August 26,
2013, the Court granted the motion and accepted her civil
rights complaint. Dkt. 3. Hauck asserts causes of action for
violations of her Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment
rights and a violation of article 1, § 7 of the
Washington State Constitution. Id.
February 25, 2014, Defendants Robert Anderson, Garry Lucas,
and Phillip D. Walker (“Defendants”) filed a
motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 18. On March 31, 2014, the
Court granted the motion and dismissed all of Hauck's
claims. Dkt. 26. On April 10, 2014, Hauck appealed. Dkt. 31.
On June 2, 2016, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed
in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further
proceedings. Dkt. 36. In relevant part, the Ninth Circuit
affirmed summary judgment on Hauck's wrongful arrest
claim, but reversed on Hauck's excessive force claim.
Id. The court concluded that Hauck had submitted
sufficient evidence to create a question of fact whether the
officers used excessive force when they arrested Hauck.
Id. Accordingly, the matter was remanded for further
proceeding only on the excessive force claim. Id.
April 28, 2017, Defendants moved to compel Hauck's
deposition and responses to discovery requests. Dkt. 51. On
May 12, 2017, Hauck responded arguing in part that
Defendants' discovery requests were overbroad. Dkt. 53.
On June 1, 2017, the Court held a telephone conference to
resolve the discovery dispute. Dkt. 58. During the
conference, Hauck revealed that the alleged excessive force
did not cause all of the damages claimed in her complaint.
Hauck is the master of her complaint, and only she can inform
the Court and Defendants what damages were caused by the
alleged excessive force, which is the only remaining claim in
this case. In an effort to discover the relevant damages, and
thus narrow the issues for discovery as Hauck requested, the
Court ordered Hauck to appear for a deposition for the sole
purpose of determining what damages Hauck claims resulted
from the use of excessive force. The parties agreed on a
deposition to occur around noon on June 8, 2017.
8, 2017, instead of appearing for the deposition, Hauck filed
the instant motion requesting that the Court recuse itself
from the matter. Dkt. 59. On that same day, Defendants filed a
status report asserting that Hauck failed to appear for the
deposition and requested costs for the failure. Dkt. 60.
justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States
shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his
impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 455(a). “Whenever a motion to recuse directed at
a judge of this court is filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
144 or 28 U.S.C. § 455, the challenged judge will review
the motion papers and decide whether to recuse
voluntarily.” Local Rules, W.D. Wash. LCR 3(e).
“If the challenged judge decides not to voluntarily
recuse, he or she will direct the clerk to refer the motion
to the chief judge . . . .” Id.
case, Hauck has failed to show that the undersigned's
impartiality may reasonably be questioned. There is no
authority for the proposition that a plaintiff may refuse to
produce any discovery or continually fail to appear for a
deposition. The only live claim in this matter is Hauck's
claim for excessive force. When Hauck first informed the
Court and Defendants that her damages for the excessive force
claim were not all of the damages alleged in the complaint,
the Court fashioned a remedy to determine the scope of
Hauck's damages. Allowing Defendants a limited deposition
to define the scope of damages is not an act of impartiality,
but rather an effort to simplify and facilitate the discovery
obligations of Hauck, who is representing herself. Therefore,
the Court concludes that Hauck has failed to show bias or
impartiality and declines to recuse.
regard to Defendants' motions, the Court will renote them
for consideration on the Court's July 7, 2017 calendar.
Hauck may respond accordingly.
the undersigned refuses to recuse voluntarily, and the Clerk
shall refer Hauck's motion to the chief judge of the