MOODY v. LAHOOD et al
Entry Discussing Motion for Recusal - Plaintiff's Motion for Recusal of Judge Pratt [dkt. 32 ] is DENIED. Signed by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on 9/17/2012. Copy Mailed. (JD)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
RAY LAHOOD in his official capacity as )
Secretary of the UNITED STATES )
MICHAEL B. CLINE in his official
capacity as the Commissioner of the
INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF
ROBERT F. TALLY in his official
capacity as the Division Administrator - )
Indiana Department of the FEDERAL
VICTOR MENDEZ in his official
capacity as Administrator of the
JOSEPH MCGUINNESS in his official
capacity as Mayor of the City of
GARY W. MOODY,
Entry Discussing Motion for Recusal
Under 28 U.S.C. ' 455(a), a federal judge must disqualify herself Ain any
proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.@ Matter of
Hatcher, 150 F.3d 631, 637 (7th Cir. 1998). AThe standard in any case for a ' 455(a)
recusal is whether the judge's impartiality could be questioned by a reasonable,
well-informed observer.@ Id. In Hook v. McDade, 89 F.3d 350, 354 (7th Cir. 1996),
the court stated that ' 455(a) Aasks whether a reasonable person perceives a
significant risk that the judge will resolve the case on a basis other than the merits.
This is an objective inquiry.@
The plaintiff seeks the recusal of the undersigned because he disagrees with
the series of rulings his filings have prompted and is discontent with the pace at
which the action is proceeding.
admonishments are not grounds for recusal. See Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S.
540 (1994). In order to justify recusal under § 455(a), the impartiality of which a
judge is accused will almost always be extrajudicial. Id., at 554; O'Regan v.
Arbitration Forums, Inc., 246 F.3d 975, 988 (7th Cir. 2001); In re Huntington
Commons Assocs., 21 F.3d 157, 158-59 (7th Cir. 1994). Thus, “[w]hen a motion for
recusal fails to set forth an extrajudicial source for the alleged bias and no such
source is apparent, the motion should be denied.” Sprinpangler v. Sears, Roebuck &
Co., 759 F. Supp. 1327, 1329 (S.D.Ind. 1991) (citing Jaffree v. Wallace, 837 F.2d
1461, 1465 (11th Cir. 1988)).
The plaintiff=s dissatisfaction with prior rulings by the undersigned is not
evidence of bias nor is it otherwise a valid basis for a change of judge. See United
States v. Grinnell Corp., 384 U. S. 563, 583 (1966) ("alleged bias and prejudice to be
disqualifying must stem from an extrajudicial source and result in an opinion on the
merits on some basis other than what the judge has learned from his participation
in the case"). The plaintiff=s suggestion otherwise is both frivolous and contrived. A
judge is presumed to be impartial. United States v. Baskes, 687 F.2d 165, 170 (7th
Cir. 1981). A[W]e remain ever mindful that attacks on a judge's impartiality may
mask attempts to circumvent that judge's anticipated adverse decision.@ In re Antar,
71 F.3d 97, 101 (3d Cir. 1995). Section 455 Amust not be so broadly construed that it
becomes, in effect, presumptive, so that recusal is mandated upon the merest
unsubstantiated suggestion of personal bias or prejudice.@ Nichols v. Alley, 71 F.3d
347, 351 (10th Cir. 1995)(quoting Franks v. Nimmo, 796 F.2d 1230, 1235 (10th Cir.
1986)). Neither is the statute intended to Abestow veto power over judges or to be
used as a judge shopping device.@ Id.
Although this court is sufficiently occupied by cases in which disqualification
is not sought, it will not and should not take flight from its responsibility to hear
and decide the matters assigned to its docket on the basis of meritless filings such
as those presented here by the plaintiff through his Amotion for recusal of Judge
Pratt@ and his earlier “Statement to Judge Tanya Walton Pratt” filed on August 3,
2012. As stated in New York City Housing Development Corporation v. Hart, 796
F.2d 976, 980-81 (7th Cir. 1986):
A judge may decide close calls in favor of recusal. But there must first
be a close call. As we put it in Suson v. Zenith Radio Corp., 763 F.2d
304, 308-09 n.2 (7th Cir. 1985), a "district judge is . . . obligated not to
recuse himself without reason just as he is obligated to recuse himself
when there is reason." See also United States v. Baskes, 687 F.2d 165,
170 (7th Cir. 1981).
The disqualification of a judge is a serious matter and must not be based on
conjecture or mere opinion of a party or of parties. A reasonable question concerning
this judge=s impartiality, however, simply is not raised by the plaintiff=s filings.
There is no close call to make in this case. The mere filing of a motion to recuse does
not require disqualification, and the plaintiff offers nothing of substance beyond his
The motion to recuse thus fails under ' 455(a)(1) because the circumstances
reviewed above do not demonstrate an objectively reasonable basis for questioning
my impartiality. In addition, no circumstances associated with this action warrant
the disqualification of the undersigned judge under any provision of ' 455(b). The
other guides mentioned by the plaintiff do not establish either the procedure or the
criteria for a judge’s recusal.
The motion for recusal of Judge Pratt [dkt. 32] is denied.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Hon. Tanya Walton Pratt, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
All Electronically Registered Counsel
Gary W. Moody
299 1/2 Madison Street
Franklin, IN 46131
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