Slavick v. Lalotoa et al
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR RECUSAL. Signed by JUDGE DERRICK K. WATSON on 1/4/2017. Re: 6 - On December 29, 2016, Plaintiff Chris Slavick, proceeding pro se, filed a document entitled Objection to Involvement o f Judges, which the Court liberally construes as a motion for the Court to recuse itself from further proceedings in this civil action. The apparent basis for the request is the Court's prior ruling in an unrelated case, Civil No. 15-00424 DK W-KJM. Because Slavick fails to establishthat the Court's impartiality might reasonably be questioned or any other grounds sufficient to justify recusal in this matter the motion is denied. (ecs, )CERTIFICATE O F SERVICEParticipants registered to receive electronic notifications received this document electronically at the e-mail address listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF). Participants not registered to receive electronic notifications were served by first class mail on the date of this docket entry
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF HAWAI‘I
CHRIS SLAVICK, #A07658819
CV. NO. 16-00601 DKW-RLP
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S
MOTION FOR RECUSAL
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR RECUSAL
On December 29, 2016, Plaintiff Chris Slavick, proceeding pro se, filed a
document entitled “Objection to Involvement of Judges,” which the Court liberally
construes as a motion for the Court to recuse itself from further proceedings in this
civil action. The apparent basis for the request is the Court’s prior ruling in an
unrelated case, Civil No. 15-00424 DKW-KJM. Because Slavick fails to establish
that the Court’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned – or any other grounds
sufficient to justify recusal in this matter – the motion is denied.1
The Court finds this matter suitable for disposition without a hearing pursuant to Local Rule
7.2(d). To the extent Slavick seeks additional forms of relief in the instant filing, the Court will
address those requests by separate order.
Slavick filed a prisoner civil rights complaint on November 7, 2016, alleging
violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”),
42 U.S.C. §§ 12182 et seq. In a November 22, 2016 Order, the Court dismissed
Slavick’s complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)
and 1915A(b)(1), and granted him leave to file an amended complaint by no later
than December 30, 2016. See Dkt. No. 5 (11/22/16 Order). Instead of filing an
amended complaint, on December 29, 2016, Slavick filed the instant objection “to
any and all involvement by judges Michael Seabright and D. Kahala Watson.”
Motion at 1. His objection is based upon:
their prior involvement in a legal case in which they were either
conflicted due to having a close familial relationship to the trial
judge in the prior appealed case (former Judge Karen Ahn) . . .
and decisions were made by either or both of them that were
based on patently false information provided to them by a
government agency (Halawa C.F.) and I objected to and
discredited the fraudulent information provided to them,
requested law enforcement intervention to secure evidence and
to verify the government fraud, yet they plainly ignored my
meritorious legal requests.
Motion at 1-2.
According to Slavick, the Court erred in its prior rulings in an unrelated
matter, Slavick v. Sequiera, Civil No. 15-00424 DKW-KJM, in which the Court
adopted the Findings and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge to deny his 42
U.S.C. § 2254 petition, and which is currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court
of Appeals. In the prior Section 2254 habeas proceeding, the Court concluded that
Slavick’s state court conviction did not violate his constitutional right to a speedy
trial under the Sixth Amendment or his right to be free from double jeopardy under
the Fifth Amendment. See Civil No. 15-00424 DKW-KJM, Dkt. No. 53 (9/23/16
Slavick now alleges that it was improper for the undersigned to be assigned as
presiding judge in the present matter, Civil No. 16-00601 DKW-KJM, based upon
prior rulings in the Section 2254 habeas case, Civil No. 15-00424 DKW-KJM.
According to Slavick:
The plain fact that [the undersigned] was assigned by chief judge
J. Michael Seabright . . . is a serious conflict and an extremely
improper appearance of impropriety that violates judicial
Canons. . . . Whether or not the highly suspect involvement by
judges Seabright and Watson is coincidental or ‘cronyism’ is
nearly irrelevant in comparison to these foregoing conflicts
which I’ve already factually cited, accurately.
Motion at 2.
Although Slavick does not specify the authority under which he objects to the
Court’s involvement, the Court liberally construes the request for recusal as brought
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 455.2 Section 455 provides, in pertinent part:
(a) Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States
shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his
impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
(b) He shall also disqualify himself in the following
(1) Where he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a
“[T]he substantive standard is whether a reasonable person with knowledge of
all the facts would conclude that the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be
questioned.” Pesnell v. Arsenault, 543 F.3d 1038, 1043 (9th Cir. 2008) (citations,
quotations, and alterations omitted). The “reasonable person” is not someone who
is “hypersensitive or unduly suspicious,” but rather a “well-informed, thoughtful
observer” who “understand[s] all the relevant facts” and “has examined the record
and law.” United States v. Holland, 519 F.3d 909, 914 (9th Cir. 2008) (citations
omitted). “The standard must not be so broadly construed that it becomes, in effect,
Because Slavick is proceeding pro se, the Court liberally construes his pleadings. See Eldridge
v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987).
presumptive, so that recusal is mandated upon the merest unsubstantiated suggestion
of personal bias or prejudice.” Id. at 913 (quotations omitted).
Slavick objects to the Court presiding over the instant civil action in light of
the previous denial of his Section 2254 petition in Civil No. 15-00424 DKW-KJM.
Although Slavick contends that the Court is biased based upon a “serious conflict,”
the alleged bias “must usually stem from an extrajudicial source.” Pesnell, 543
F.3d at 1043. There is no allegation of an extrajudicial source of bias or partiality
here.3 To the contrary, the allegations stem solely from the Court’s role in prior
judicial proceedings. On their face, Slavick’s assertions reveal nothing improper
about the Court’s conduct, nor do they cast light on any extrajudicial bias.
As the Supreme Court has explained in the context of judicial proceedings:
First, judicial rulings alone almost never constitute a valid basis
for a bias or partiality motion. In and of themselves . . . they
cannot possibly show reliance upon an extrajudicial source. . . .
Second, opinions formed by the judge on the basis of facts
introduced or events occurring in the course of the current
proceedings, or of prior proceedings, do not constitute a basis for
a bias or partiality motion unless they display a deep-seated
favoritism or antagonism that would make fair judgment
impossible. Thus, judicial remarks during the course of a trial
that are critical or disapproving of, or even hostile to, counsel,
the parties, or their cases, ordinarily do not support a bias or
partiality challenge. They may do so if they reveal an opinion
that derives from an extrajudicial source; and they will do so if
To be clear, the undersigned has no familial relationship with retired Circuit Court Judge Karen
Ahn, has never communicated with her, nor even met her.
they reveal such a high degree of favoritism or antagonism as to
make fair judgment impossible.
Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 555 (1994).
Slavick simply fails to meet these standards here. He points to no personal
bias stemming from an extrajudicial source, evidences no “deep-seated favoritism or
antagonism,” and otherwise fails to show bias based on the Court’s prior rulings.
See Leslie v. Grupo ICA, 195 F.3d 1152, 1160 (9th Cir. 1999) (“[The plaintiff’s]
allegations stem entirely from the district court judge’s adverse rulings. That is not
an adequate basis for recusal.”). Moreover, the random assignment of this civil
action does not evidence any impartiality on the part of the undersigned or Judge
In sum, Slavick’s motion for recusal is unfounded. A reasonable person with
knowledge of all the facts would not conclude that the Court’s s impartiality might
reasonably be questioned under the circumstances alleged. Accordingly, the
motion is denied.
To the extent Slavick seeks Judge Seabright’s recusal based upon the November 7, 2016
scheduling order entered by the Clerk’s Office and signed by Judge Seabright, see Dkt. No. 3, the
Court denies the request. Neither this civil action, nor the prior Section 2254 habeas case (Civil
No. 15-00424 DKW-KJM), is assigned to Judge Seabright, and accordingly, he cannot be recused
from further involvement. Moreover, the ministerial entry of a scheduling order by the Clerk’s
Office is not a basis for recusal.
Based on the foregoing, Slavick’s motion for recusal is denied.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: January 4, 2017 at Honolulu, Hawai‘i.
Slavick v. Lalotoa; Civil No. 16-00601 DKW-RLP; ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR
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