Guillen v. Owens et al

Filing 211

ORDER denying 175 Motion to Reassign Case. Signed by Judge David G Campbell on 3/2/2012.(NVO)

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1 WO 2 3 4 5 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 6 FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA 7 8 Karl Louis Guillen, 9 Plaintiff, 10 v. 11 Quincy Owens, et al., 12 Defendants. 13 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) No. CV 10-0226-PHX-JWS (LOA) ORDER 14 Plaintiff Karl Louis Guillen is confined in Special Management Unit I of the Arizona 15 State Prison Complex-Eyman, in Florence, Arizona. Doc. 8. Plaintiff has filed a pro se 16 complaint regarding conditions of his confinement, alleging that he is being held 17 unconstitutionally in solitary confinement and torturous conditions. His case is assigned to 18 Judge John W. Sedwick. 19 Plaintiff has filed a Request for Change of Judge for Cause and Prejudice. Doc. 175. 20 Attached to the request is an affidavit by Plaintiff setting forth the grounds for his motion. 21 Judge Sedwick interpreted the request as a motion to recuse under 28 U.S.C. § 144, and 22 requested that it be assigned to another judge for decision. Doc. 176. The Clerk assigned 23 the request to the undersigned judge. Id. 24 The undersigned agrees that Plaintiff’s motion appears to be brought under 28 U.S.C. 25 § 144. That section applies when a party to a proceeding believes that the district judge “has 26 a personal bias or prejudice either against him or in favor of any adverse party[.]” 28 U.S.C. 27 § 144. “Section 144 expressly conditions relief upon the filing of a timely and legally 28 sufficient affidavit.” United States v. Sibla, 624 F.2d 864, 867 (9th Cir. 1980) (citations 1 omitted). When a party files such an affidavit, the district judge normally is required to refer 2 the matter to another judge for decision. 18 U.S.C. § 144; Sibla, 624 F.2d at 867. 3 Plaintiff’s motion appears to be based entirely on Judge Sedwick’s rulings in this case. 4 Plaintiff notes that Judge Sedwick “has denied even temporary relief from the 16 years of 5 isolation.” Doc. 175 at 2. Plaintiff also notes that Judge Sedwick denied Plaintiff’s request 6 that Defendants be ordered to inspect various pieces of equipment and take temperature 7 readings. Id. at 3; Doc. 171. Plaintiff alleges that he is being housed in a “torture cell” that 8 is unreasonably hot. Judge Sedwick denied Plaintiff’s request because it “does not involve 9 discovery contemplated in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure” and “Plaintiff cites no 10 authority to support the request.” Doc. 171. Plaintiff asserts that “common sense” justifies 11 requiring Defendants to take temperature readings in a case alleging unreasonably hot 12 housing conditions, and that the lack of a prison library makes it impossible for Plaintiff to 13 cite authority. Doc. 175 at 3. Plaintiff states that he does not complain about these rulings 14 themselves, but asserts that they show blindness, unfitness, and inexcusable neglect of 15 common judicial sense. Id. at 3-4. 16 The standard for recusal under section 144 is “whether a reasonable person with 17 knowledge of all the facts would conclude the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be 18 questioned.” Taylor v. Regents of Univ. of Cal., 993 F.2d 710, 712 (9th Cir. 1993), cert. 19 denied, 510 U.S. 1076 (1994) (quoting United States v. Studley, 783 F.2d 934, 939 (9th Cir. 20 1986)). “The Supreme Court has . . . addressed the question of whether the personal bias 21 or prejudice alleged in support of a motion for recusal . . . must stem from an extrajudicial 22 source. The Court determined that judicial rulings may support a motion for recusal, but only 23 ‘in the rarest circumstances’ where they evidence the requisite degree of favoritism or 24 antagonism.” United States v. Chisilly, 30 F.3d 1144, 1149 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 25 1132 (1994) (quoting Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 555 (1994)). Indeed, “Liteky 26 instructs that ‘judicial rulings almost never constitute a valid basis for a bias or partiality 27 motion’ and per se ‘cannot possibly show reliance upon an extrajudicial source’ in a judge’s 28 deliberations.” Id. (emphasis in Chisilly); see Poland v. Stewart, 117 F.3d 1094, 1104 (9th -2- 1 Cir. 1997). Thus, adverse rulings generally are “not sufficient to require recusal, even if the 2 number of such rulings is extraordinarily high.” McCalden v. Cal. Library Ass’n, 955 F.2d 3 1214, 1224 (9th Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 504 U.S. 957 (1992). 4 The undersigned does not find that Judge Sedwick’s rulings show any level of 5 antagonism or favoritism, much less the high level required to satisfy the “rarest 6 circumstances” standard identified by the Supreme Court. Judge Sedwick denied Plaintiff’s 7 request for temporary relief because Plaintiff failed to make the showings required for a 8 temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction. Doc. 73. Judge Sedwick also 9 correctly denied Plaintiff’s discovery request. Doc. 171. The Federal Rules of Civil 10 Procedure simply do not include a discovery tool that requires an opposing party to inspect 11 property or take measurements.1 12 In summary, Plaintiff bases his motion solely on Judge Sedwick’s rulings in this case, 13 such a basis generally cannot support a motion for disqualification under section 144, and 14 Plaintiff has not shown that this is one of the rare cases where rulings evince bias on the part 15 of the judge. Because no reasonable person with knowledge of all the facts could conclude 16 that Judge Sedwick’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, the motion is denied. 17 18 19 IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Request for Change of Judge for Cause and Prejudice (Doc. 175) is denied. DATED this 2nd day of March, 2012. 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 1 27 28 The rules do permit Plaintiff, if the discovery period were still open (see Doc. 169), to request documents that reflect temperatures in Plaintiff’s facility (if such documents exist) or to ask written questions regarding temperatures at the facility (see Fed. R. Civ. P. 33, 34), but these are not the kinds of requests Plaintiff made (see Doc. 146). -3-

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