United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
CHAKAKHAN R. DAVIS PLAINTIFF
HINDS COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI; TYRONE LEWIS; JERRY ARINDER; BRENDA JONES; JOHNNY JENKINS DEFENDANTS
CARLTON W. REEVES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is the plaintiff's motion to recuse the
District and Magistrate Judges assigned to this
case. Docket No. 85. She argues that several
unfavorable Court rulings reveal the Judges'
“personal bias or prejudice concerning the plaintiff
and deep seated favoritism toward the defendants.”
Id. at 7 & 11.
law provides that “[a]ny 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). Section (b) of
that statute sets forth a number of additional grounds for
disqualification, including where the judge “has a
personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, ”
“personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts
concerning the proceeding, ” where “in private
practice he served as lawyer in the matter in controversy,
” or “has been a material witness concerning
it.” Id. § 455(b).
standard for judicial disqualification under 28 U.S.C. §
455 is whether a reasonable person, with full knowledge of
all the circumstances, would harbor doubts about the
judge's impartiality.” Matassarin v.
Lynch, 174 F.3d 549, 571 (5th Cir. 1999) (citation
omitted). The standard for bias is an objective one:
“it is with reference to the well-informed, thoughtful
and objective observer, rather than the hypersensitive,
cynical, and suspicious person.” Andrade v.
Chojnacki, 338 F.3d 448, 455 (5th Cir. 2003) (quotation
marks and citation omitted).
another federal statute provides that:
Whenever a party to any proceeding in a district court makes
and files a timely and sufficient affidavit that the judge
before whom the matter is pending has a personal bias or
prejudice either against him or in favor of any adverse
party, such judge shall proceed no further therein, but
another judge shall be assigned to hear such proceeding.
28 U.S.C. § 144. “The facts and reasons set out in
the affidavit must give fair support to the charge of a bent
of mind that may prevent or impede impartiality of
judgment.” Parrish v. Bd. of Com'rs of
Alabama State Bar, 524 F.2d 98, 100 (5th Cir. 1975)
(quotation marks and citation omitted). Those facts must be
material, stated with particularity, show that the bias is
personal rather than judicial in nature, and, if true, would
convince a reasonable person that bias exists. United
States v. Merkt, 794 F.2d 950, 960 n.9 (5th Cir. 1986).
Like a motion for disqualification filed under § 455,
motions pursuant to § 144 are resolved “by
applying the reasonable man standard to the facts and reasons
stated in the affidavit.” Parrish, 524 F.2d at
100 (citation omitted).
well-established that “judicial rulings alone almost
never constitute a valid basis for a bias or partiality
motion.” Andrade, 338 F.3d at 455 (citation
We note that 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. Not establishing bias or
partiality are expressions of impatience, dissatisfaction,
annoyance, and even anger that are within the bounds of what
imperfect men and women, even after having been confirmed as
federal judges, sometimes display. A judge's ordinary
efforts at courtroom administration - even a stern and
short-tempered judge's ordinary efforts at courtroom
administration - remain immune.
Matassarin, 174 F.3d at 571 (citations and ellipses
omitted). “Courts must take care to ensure that motions
for recusal are not abused as a litigation tactic.”
Ocean-Oil Expert Witness, Inc. v. O'Dwyer, 451
Fed.App'x 324, 329 (5th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted).
the allegations against these authorities, Davis's motion
must be denied. Her motion identifies no extra-judicial bias,
prejudice, or favoritism toward any party. Rather, she takes
issue with a series of rulings which largely, but not
uniformly, deny her the relief she has requested. Those
rulings are ordinary applications of the law, and this
response is not the appropriate way to express her
displeasure with them. They fall well short of establishing
any basis for recusal.
motion is denied.