Maxwell v. Kerr-McGee Chem Wrld, et al

Filing 320

ORDER OF RECUSAL directing reassignment to another judge. By Judge Robert E. Blackburn on 12/07/2009. (sah, )

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO Judge Robert E. Blackburn Civil Action No. 04-cv-01224-REB-CBS UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ex rel. BOBBY L. MAXWELL, Plaintiff, v. KERR-McGEE OIL & GAS CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation, Defendant. ORDER OF RECUSAL Blackburn, J. This matter comes before me sua sponte. To eschew the appearance of impropriety, I conclude that I must recuse myself from this case. As a general rule, recusal is required when "a reasonable person armed with the relevant facts would harbor doubts about the judge's impartiality." Maez v. Mountain States Telephone & Telegraph, Inc., 54 F.3d 1488, 1508 (10th Cir. 1995). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 455, a judge should recuse himself from a case when his participation in the case creates an appearance of impropriety. See United States v. Pearson, 203 F.3d 1243, 1264 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 120 S.Ct. 2734 (2000). The standard under 28 U.S.C. 455(a) is an objective one, requiring recusal only "if a reasonable person, knowing all the relevant facts, would harbor doubts about the judge's impartiality." United States v. Cooley, 1 F.3d 985, 993 (10th Cir. 1993) (citations omitted). The spouse of one of my career law clerks is a self-employed investor and money manager. As such, he holds investment positions, both personally and on behalf of clients, in Anadarko Petroleum Corp. ("APC"). Defendant Kerr-McGee Oil & Gas Corporation is listed as one of APC's "significant subsidiaries" in its most recent Form 10K submission to the SEC. (See Form 10-K, List of Significant Subsidiaries, Exh. 21, available at http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/773910/ 000119312509036986/dex21.htm (last accessed December7, 2009.) Further, APC reports that its financial statements are consolidated with those of its subsidiaries. (See id., Anadarko Petroleum Corporation Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements Years Ended December 31, 2008, 2007 and 2006 Exh. 1 at 77 1, available at http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/773910/000119312509036986/d10k.htm#tx159 700_30) (last accessed December 7, 2009). Accordingly, I conclude that the impartiality of my chambers might reasonably be questioned in this matter, and the appearance of impropriety may very well exist, warranting my sua sponte recusal and disqualification as required by 28 U.S.C. 455 (a) and Canon 3.C(1) of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, 175 F.R.D. 364, 368 (1998). THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED as follows: 1. That under 28 U.S.C. 455(a), I RECUSE myself from this case; and 2. That this case SHALL BE REASSIGNED pursuant to D.C.COLO.LCivR 40.1B. and F. -2- Dated December 7, 2009, in Denver, Colorado. BY THE COURT: -3-

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