United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISQUALIFY AND ORDER OF
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Anne Block's
Motion to Disqualify (Dkt. #17).
Court has reviewed Ms. Block's Motion to Disqualify.
Under this Court's Local Rules, this Motion is first
reviewed by the challenged Judge and then referred to another
judge for review. LCR 3(f). Pursuant 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 455(b)(1).
“[A] judge's prior adverse ruling is not sufficient
cause for recusal.” United States v. Studley,
783 F.2d 934, 939 (9th Cir. 1986); see also Taylor v.
Regents of Univ. of Cal., 993 F.2d 710, 712 (9th Cir.
1993) (“To warrant recusal, judicial bias must stem
from an extrajudicial source.”).
Court finds that Ms. Block is relying on this Court's
prior adverse rulings and her own unsupported speculation
related to the assignment of this case as evidence of bias.
This is insufficient to warrant recusal. See Studley,
supra; Taylor, supra. As she herself acknowledges, the
argument that judges who are members of the WSBA cannot hear
this case has been addressed and disregarded in Ms.
Block's prior lawsuits and will not be addressed ad
nauseum in subsequent vexatious litigation. In any event, the
Court need not rule on the merits of her claims at this early
stage. Ms. Block has presented no reasonable basis to
question impartiality. Accordingly, the undersigned judge
declines to voluntarily recuse himself.
Court has also issued an Order to Show Cause why this case
should not be dismissed based on a Bar Order issued on April
13, 2016. See Dkt. #122 in Block v. Washington
State Bar Association et al., No. 2:15-cv-02018-RSM
(W.D. Wash. 2016) (“Bar Order”). That Order
Any pro se complaint submitted for filing in this District in
which Anne Block is a named Plaintiff or purports to act as
party representative shall be subject to review by the Court
prior to the issuance of summons or service of process. . . .
The Court will review the proposed Complaint to determine
whether good cause exists to permit the action to proceed in
light of the claims raised therein and Ms. Block's past
litigation abuses. . . . The proposed Complaint shall be
accompanied by a signed statement explaining, on a
claim-by-claim basis, (a) whether each claim was raised in
any prior action (with an appropriate citation) and (b) why
each claim is not barred by collateral estoppel, res
judicata, and/or an applicable immunity. If the Court
determines that good cause has not been shown, the action
will be dismissed sua sponte without further notice.
If the Court also determines that sanctions are appropriate,
those shall be imposed at the same time the action is
Id. at 25-26.
case was originally filed by Ms. Block in U.S. District Court
for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The Honorable
Malachy E. Mannion noted it was “inexplicabl[e]”
that Ms. Block filed in Pennsylvania, given that Plaintiff
and Defendants reside in Washington State, and the claims
arise from events occurring in Washington State. Dkt. #8 at
1-2. Judge Mannion ruled that “plaintiff's
Complaint and her Amended Complaint both indicate that the
crux of this case occurred in Washington State, and the
addition of a single Pennsylvania defendant, along with a
threadbare factual basis of liability, does not suffice to
keep this action out of the venue in which it rightfully
belongs.” Id. at 8. The case was then
transferred here. This Court agrees with Judge Mannion's
analysis and will not revisit the issue of venue.
25, 2018, the Court found that the Bar Order applies to this
case even though Ms. Block originally filed in Pennsylvania,
and ordered her to Show Cause why this case should not be
dismissed pursuant to the terms of that Bar Order. Dkt. #16.
Specifically, the Court Ordered Ms. Block to “respond
with a signed statement explaining, on a claim-by-claim
basis, (a) whether each claim was raised in any prior action
(with an appropriate citation) and (b) why each claim is not
barred by collateral estoppel, res judicata, and/or an
applicable immunity.” Id. The Court limited
the response to 8 pages. Id.
9, 2018, Ms. Block filed two apparently identical documents,
each titled “Response to Show Cause Order.”
See Dkts. #54 and #55. Each is 10 pages long.
preliminary matter, the Court finds that Ms. Block has not
followed the Court's clear instruction limiting the
length of this Response. Nor has Ms. Block properly requested
additional briefing by, e.g., filing a motion for
over-length briefing under the procedure of Local Rule 7(f).
Accordingly, the Court could easily refuse to review any
argument raised by Ms. Block after the eighth page of her
Response brief, as is the Court's standard practice.
Block argues that the Bar Order does not technically apply to
this case because it was not “submitted for filing in
this District, ” and because review by the Court has
not occurred “prior to the issuance of summons or
service of process.” Dkt. #55 at 1. The Court
previously found and continues to find that the Bar Order
does apply. The purpose of the Bar Order was to prevent Ms.
Block from engaging in vexatious litigation in this District.
Judge Mannion has already ruled that this action, originally
filed in Pennsylvania, should have been filed in this
District. The Court will not allow Ms. Block to file actions
in other Districts with essentially the same claims against
the same Defendants as her prior dismissed actions as a
mechanism to get around the Bar Order. That Ms. Block has
already served Defendants in this case does not extinguish
the Court's ability to enforce the Bar Order; it only
serves as a greater motivation for the Court to swiftly
review this issue to avoid unnecessary expense for these
Defendants, who have been victims of Ms. Block's
vexatious litigation previously.
Block does not address the questions asked by the Court in
the Show Cause Order until the very end of her briefing.
First, she raises an issue with the Clerk of the Court
erroneously requiring her to obtain local counsel in this
case, then she spends several pages reiterating her arguments
for recusal. See Dkt. #55 at 2-8. Ms. Block argues
that the Bar Order was issued without sufficient notice. When
she finally gets to the questions that will determine whether
this action can proceed, she begins by stating “the
plaintiff denies any past litigation abuses and will continue
to do so until all appeals are exhausted.” Id.
at 8. She indicates she has made stylistic changes to claims
previously brought in prior actions. She states that
“[t]he undersigned has reviewed the claims in
paragraphs 3.10, through 3.72 and all are new claims that
have not been litigated before.” Id. at 9.
Belying that assertion, she then goes on to argue that
“the plaintiff contends that none of the defendants are
covered by any immunities as argued
previously…” Id. Ms. Block
does not explicitly address her claims one at a time and
address “whether each claim was raised in any prior
action (with an appropriate citation).” Ms. Block does
not even mention collateral estoppel or res judicata.
Court finds that Ms. Block has failed to respond to the
Court's Order to Show Cause within the first eight pages
of her Response. Even if the Court considers her entire
Response, she only argues that the Bar Order should never
have been implemented in the first place, that she has never
engaged in litigation abuses, and that her claims have merit.
These are not responses to the Court's valid questions.
The Court finds that Ms. Block is repeating prior dismissed
litigation against ...