Jones v. Hobbs et al
ORDER denying 86 Plaintiff's Motion for Recusal. Signed by Magistrate Judge J. Thomas Ray on 10/18/2013. (kcs)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
PINE BLUFF DIVISION
MEGAN BOND, Varner Unit Infirmary,
Arkansas Department of Correction, et al.
Plaintiff, David Jones, is a prisoner proceeding pro se in this § 1983 action. He
has recently filed a Motion arguing that I should recuse from this case. Doc. 86.
A judge must "disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality
might reasonably be questioned." 28 U.S.C. § 455(a). Because a judge is presumed
to be impartial, the "party seeking disqualification bears the substantial burden of
proving otherwise." Am. Prairie Constr. Co. v. Hoich, 594 F.3d 1015, 1022 (8th Cir.
2010); U.S. v. Denton, 434 F.3d 1104, 1111 (8th Cir. 2006). Additionally, the Eighth
Circuit has clarified that a judge's rulings "do not constitute a basis for a bias or
partiality" unless the rulings "display a deep-seated favoritism or antagonism that
would make fair judgment impossible." Id.
On June 25, 2013, I entered an Initial Scheduling Order staying discovery on
the merits of Plaintiff's claims until the issue of exhaustion of administrative remedies
was resolved. Doc. 70. Plaintiff contends that I was not impartial in my decision to
enter that Order because it alerted Defendants to the need to raise that affirmative
defense. Doc. 86.
The Initial Scheduling Order is a routine order that I enter in all prisoner cases
filed against multiple ADC Defendants, regardless of whether there may be a valid
exhaustion argument to be raised in that particular case. At the time Initial Scheduling
Orders are entered, the Court has no way of knowing whether a viable exhaustion
argument can or should be raised. However, the Prison Litigation Reform Act clearly
contemplates that possible exhaustion issues be raised as soon as possible so that the
parties and the Court's resources are not unnecessarily expended developing the merits
of unexhausted claims. Nothing about my entry of the Initial Scheduling Order in this
case prevents me from being fair, unbiased, and impartial.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED THAT Plaintiff's Motion to Recuse (Doc. 86)
Dated this 18th day of October, 2013.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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