Michael Gates v. Lonnie D. Jackson, Jr. et al

Filing 159

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO DISQUALIFY MAGISTRATE JUDGE, 158 , by Judge Dean D. Pregerson: Plaintiffs Motion to Disqualify is DENIED. IT IS SO ORDERED. See order for more information. (shb)

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O 1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 MICHAEL GATES, 10 Plaintiff, 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 v. LONNIE D. JACKSON, JR., ET. AL., Defendants. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No. 2Ȭ14ȬcvȬ00904ȬJCx ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO DISQUALIFY MAGISTRATE JUDGE 18 19 20 21 This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff’s motion to disqualify Magistrate Judge Chooljian. Based on the materials submitted and the issues raised therein, the court denies the motion and adopts the following Order. 22 23 24 25 A judge “shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned” and in proceedings in which “he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts 26 27 concerning the proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 455(a) & (b)(1). The Ninth Circuit has addressed 28 the standard for disqualification under § 455, writing: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 The test under § 455(a) is “whether a reasonable person with knowledge of all the facts would conclude that the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” [] Typically, a judge’s partiality must be shown to be based on information from extrajudicial sources, although sometimes, albeit rarely, predispositions developed during the course of a trial will suffice. [] In the instance where the partiality develops during the course of the proceedings, it can be the basis of recusal only when the judge displays a deepȬseated and unequivocal antagonism that would render fair judgment impossible. F.J. Hanshaw Enters., Inc. v. Emerald River Dev., Inc., 244 F.3d 1128, 1144Ȭ45 (9th Cir. 8 9 10 11 2001) (citations omitted). Plaintiff accuses Judge Chooljian of (1) failing to timely rule on Plaintiff’s motions while ruling more quickly on Defendants’ motions, including, in one instance, within one 12 13 day; (2) granting an ex parte motion improperly; and (3) demonstrating prejudice by 14 recommending a judgment on the pleadings in Defendants’ favor that was later reversed 15 16 17 18 by the Ninth Circuit. Further, Plaintiff notes that he never consented to Judge Chooljian’s presiding over his case. That Plaintiff did not, and does not, consent to Judge Chooljian’s presiding over 19 20 his case does not deprive her of authority to preside over his case. Plaintiff’s nonȬconsent 21 only impacts Judge Chooljian’s ability to order judgment in the case. General Order No. 22 05-07; 28 U.S.C. §636(c)(3) (“The consent of the parties allows a magistrate judge…to 23 24 25 26 direct the entry of a [final, appealable] judgment.”); see also Roell v. Withrow, 538 U.S. 580, 586 (2003). Here, Judge Chooljian did not issue a final, appealable judgment, but rather issued a Report and Recommendation to the undersigned. Dkt 140; Dkt 141. It was 27 28 2 1 2 3 this Court’s order adopting the Report and Recommendation that Mr. Gates appealed to the Ninth Circuit. Thus, although the court acknowledges Plaintiff’s right to refuse to consent to Judge Chooljian’s authority to enter a final judgment, such authority was not 4 5 6 7 exercised in this case. As for the evidence of possible bias, “[a] judge’s views on legal issues may not serve as the basis for motions to disqualify.” United States v. Conforte, 624 F.2d 869, 882 8 9 10 11 (9th Cir. 1980); see also United States v. Bauer, 84 F.3d 1549, 1560 (9th Cir. 1996). The proper avenue for Plaintiff to challenge the grant of judgment on the pleadings and the grant of Defendants’ ex parte motion was to await the District court’s ruling, then file an 12 13 appeal, as Mr. Gates did. Nor did Judge Chooljian fail to timely rule on Plaintiff’s motion. 14 motion, Dkt. 98. 15 16 17 For these reasons, there is no reasonable basis to question Judge Chooljian’s impartiality. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Motion to Disqualify is DENIED. 18 19 20 21 IT IS SO ORDERED. 22 23 24 25 Dated: November 17, 2022 ___________________________________ Hon. Dean D. Pregerson U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE 26 27 28 3

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