Gleis v. Buehler et al
ORDER denying 127 Motion to Transfer/Disqualify/Recuse Judge, Signed by Judge Robert N. Chatigny on 4/20/12. (Blue, A.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
JOHN BUEHLER, et al.,
CASE NO. 3:04CV2217(RNC)
RULING AND ORDER
Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, has moved pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(c)(4) to vacate the reference of this case to
Magistrate Judge Martinez [doc. 127].
Judge Martinez has been
exercising case-dispositive jurisdiction in this matter since
2005, when the case was referred to her on mutual consent of the
parties for all further proceedings including entry of final
Under § 636(c)(4), such a full reference may be
vacated at the request of a party only if the party shows
Plaintiff has not made the
compelling showing required by the statute to justify vacating
Accordingly, the motion is denied.
Plaintiff seeks to vacate the referral in order to have me
reconsider a recent ruling by Judge Martinez denying plaintiff’s
motion to reopen this case.
This case was closed in 2007
pursuant to a ruling by Judge Martinez granting the defendants’
motion for summary judgment.
Judge Martinez subsequently denied
a motion for reconsideration filed by the plaintiff seeking to
vacate the judgment.
The grant of summary judgment was then
affirmed on appeal.
See Gleis v. Buehler, 374 F. App’x 218 (2d
After the judgment was affirmed, plaintiff returned
to this court and filed motions to reopen the case and recuse
Both motions were recently denied by Judge
Martinez leading plaintiff to file the pending motion for
Plaintiff urges that the referral to Judge Martinez should
be vacated in light of statements contained in the ruling on
summary judgment, which the plaintiff views as clearly erroneous.
The Second Circuit, after reviewing Judge Martinez’s grant of
summary judgment de novo, affirmed her ruling in all respects and
described her opinion as “thorough and well-reasoned.”
374 F. App’x. at 220-21.
The Second Circuit’s decision
constitutes the law of this case and must be followed.
Plaintiff submits that the summary judgment ruling is
extremely disadvantageous to her, financially and otherwise.
Plaintiff’s concern is understandable.
But a party’s
dissatisfaction with a magistrate judge’s decision does not
constitute an extraordinary circumstance under § 636(c)(4).
Zerega Ave. Realty Corp. v. Hornbeck Offshore Transp., LLC, No.
04 Civ. 9651 (KMW)(KNF), 2011 WL 70593, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 10,
As commentators have observed, the statute was “certainly
not meant to permit a party to argue that rulings by the
magistrate judge warranted withdrawal of the case.”
A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller, Mary Kay Kane & Richard L. Marcus,
Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil § 3071.3 (2d ed. Supp.
Plaintiff submits that the referral should be vacated
because Judge Martinez is not impartial.
essentially the same argument in support of her motion to recuse
In denying the motion, Judge Martinez stated
that plaintiff had “fail[ed] to demonstrate favoritism or
antagonism that would raise a significant doubt that justice
would be done absent recusal.”
Reopen at 2 (doc. 123).
Rulings on Motions to Recuse and
Having reviewed the record, I agree with
Judge Martinez’s conclusion.
Reported decisions involving motions to vacate referrals
pursuant to § 636(c)(4) show that judges do not vacate referrals
whenever bias is alleged but instead require the movant to point
to facts satisfying the statute’s standard of extraordinary
See, e.g., Manion v. American Airlines, Inc., 251
F.Supp.2d 171, 174-75 (D.D.C. 2003); Doe v. Nat’l Bd. of Med.
Exam’rs, No. CIV. A. 99-4532, 2001 WL 1003206, at *4 (E.D.Pa.
Aug. 14, 2001); Clay v. Brown, Hopkins & Stambaugh, 892 F. Supp.
11 (D.D.C. 1995).
Requiring litigants to satisfy the statute’s
demanding standard serves important institutional interests,
which would be at risk if a less cautious approach were used.
“Particular caution is warranted when it appears that the party
seeking to vacate a referral to which it previously consented
simply wants to ‘rehash’ before a district judge motions decided
by the magistrate judge.”
Manion, 251 F.Supp.2d at 174 (quoting
Ouimette v. Moran, 730 F.Supp. 473, 480 (D.R.I. 1990)).
absence of a showing of extraordinary circumstances, “the remedy
is not evicting the magistrate judge from the case, but the
taking of an appeal.”
Doe, 2001 WL 1003206, at *6.
Plaintiff has not met her burden of showing extraordinary
circumstances, although she has made a diligent attempt.
claim of bias is based primarily on the summary judgment ruling.
As Magistrate Judge Martinez noted in denying the motion to
recuse, “judicial rulings alone almost never constitute a valid
basis for a bias or partiality motion.”
Manion, 251 F.Supp.2d at
173 (quoting Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 555 (1994)).
Plaintiff argues that the summary judgment ruling is so replete
with error as to compel an inference of bias.
But the law of the
case established by the Court of Appeals is to the contrary.
In support of her bias claim, plaintiff submits that Judge
Martinez went out of her way to include a footnote in the summary
judgment ruling that has caused her, the plaintiff, significant
embarrassment and hardship.
The footnote in question - footnote
3 in the ruling - quotes portions of a police officer’s redacted
incident report reciting unsavory statements attributed to the
plaintiff by a third party.
The footnote does not express or
imply any view that the plaintiff actually made the statements
alleged by the third party and it is unfortunate if readers of
the ruling have drawn such an inference.
In any case, I see no
basis for concluding that Judge Martinez intentionally undertook
to needlessly embarrass the plaintiff.
Finally, plaintiff states that she has been told Judge
Martinez felt that she “skirted around” something the Judge said
in a telephone conference.
Crediting the plaintiff’s statement,
it does not provide a basis for vacating the referral.
“Perceived friction between the party and the magistrate judge,
even coupled with adverse rulings, is not extraordinary, but is,
in fact, quite ordinary and normal.”
Doe, 2001 WL 1003206, at
Accordingly, the motion to vacate the referral is hereby
So ordered this 20th day of April 2012.
Robert N. Chatigny
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?