Amatrone et al v. Champion et al

Filing 218

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISQUALIFY by Judge Jon S. Tigar denying 215 Motion to Disqualify Judge. (wsn, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/11/2017)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 ROBERT AMATRONE, ET AL., Plaintiffs, 8 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Case No.15-cv-01356-JST ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISQUALIFY v. RANDY CHAMPION, et al., Re: ECF No. 215 Defendants. 12 13 Before the Court is Plaintiffs’ motion to disqualify the undersigned. ECF No. 215 (styled 14 as a “motion for peremptory challenge”). Plaintiffs state that their motion is based “on Code of 15 Civil Procedure Section 170.6,” but that provision of California law relates to “[a] judge, court 16 commissioner, or referee of a superior court of the State of California,” not to federal judges. The 17 Court construes Plaintiffs’ filing as a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 144. 18 Section 144 provides that “[w]henever a party to any proceeding in a district court makes 19 and files a timely and sufficient affidavit that the judge before whom the matter is pending has a 20 personal bias or prejudice either against him or in favor of any adverse party, such judge shall 21 proceed no further therein, but another judge shall be assigned to hear such proceeding.” 22 Although Plaintiffs sought to have Chief Judge Phyllis Hamilton hear their motion, section 144 23 permits a challenged judge to rule on the legal sufficiency of the challenger’s affidavit and does 24 not require a judge to assign a recusal motion to another judge for hearing where the affidavit is 25 insufficient. United States v. Azhocar, 581 F.2d 735, 738 (9th Cir. 1978). Because the facts 26 alleged by Plaintiff are insufficient to justify recusal or disqualification, the undersigned will rule 27 upon the motion rather than undertaking the “cumbersome” step of referring the motion to another 28 judge. Id. at 738. 1 In the affidavits attached to Plaintiffs’ motion, each Plaintiff states only that he or she 2 “believes that the Plaintiff cannot have a fair and impartial trial or hearing before this Judge.” 3 ECF No. 215 at 2-4. The motion itself contains no argument, and simply requests that the case be 4 “reassigned . . . due to bias and prejudice against the Plaintiff.” Id. at 1. These conclusory 5 statements would not permit “a reasonable person with knowledge of all the facts [to] conclude 6 that the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” which is the standard under section 7 144. United States v. Studley, 783 F.2d 934, 939 (9th Cir. 1986). Accordingly, the motion is 8 denied. 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: August 11, 2017 ______________________________________ JON S. TIGAR United States District Judge 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 2

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