Cohee v. Wood et al
SECOND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE ENTERED: Plaintiff Donald L. Cohee must pay the $400 filing fee on or before July 15, 2017. If Mr. Cohee does not pay the filing fee by that date, the court will dismiss this lawsuit without prejudice. Signed by District Judge Daniel D. Crabtree on 06/30/17. Mailed to pro se party Donald L. Cohee by regular mail. (smnd)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
DONALD L. COHEE,
Case No. 16-3072-DDC-DJW
AMANDA WOOD, et al.,
SECOND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
On June 15, 2017, the court issued a show cause order to plaintiff Donald L. Cohee. Doc.
32. The Order explained that 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) requires Mr. Cohee to pay the filing fee in the
case because he is a three-strikes litigant. The Order directed Mr. Cohee either to: (1) pay the
required filing fee; or (2) show good cause why the court should not dismiss his lawsuit for
failing to pay the filing fee.
Mr. Cohee has submitted a response to the Show Cause Order. Doc. 35. It fails to show
good cause why the court should not dismiss this lawsuit because Mr. Cohee has failed to pay the
required filing fee. First, Mr. Cohee asserts that he cannot pay the filing fee. He directs the
court to his inmate account statement that shows that he does not have the funds to pay the fee.1
But, his inability to pay the fee does not change the analysis under § 1915(g). See Dubuc v.
Johnson, 314 F.3d 1205, 1209 (10th Cir. 2003) (after holding that “there is no question that §
Mr. Cohee states in his response that he is “putting a copy of his account with this motion” but
none was attached. Doc. 35 at 1. The court notes that Mr. Cohee filed a statement of his account in April
2016 (Doc. 4). It shows insufficient funds to pay the filing fee. Even though that account information is
not current, it doesn’t matter for purposes of this Order. Mr. Cohee’s inability to pay the filing fee does
not allow him to avoid application of § 1915(g).
1915(g) is constitutional[,]” the Circuit recognized the “potential danger” of the statute because it
can “prevent a prisoner who has filed three or more frivolous actions from litigating a
meritorious constitutional claim until that prisoner can pay the appropriate filing fees” but “this
is the consequence of Congress’ choice” in enacting § 1915(g)). Section 1915(g) does not
prohibit Mr. Cohee from filing this lawsuit, but as a three-strikes litigant, the statute requires him
to “prepay all applicable filing fees” before the suit can proceed. Id.
Second, Mr. Cohee asserts that “the three-strikes doesn’t matter at all” because the earlier
cases were “in a state court.” Doc. 35 at 1. That is just wrong. The court explained in its Show
Cause Order that the three strikes against Mr. Cohee come from dismissals of two cases in the
Northern District of Indiana and one case in our court. Doc. 32 at 2–3. Mr. Cohee has not
shown that the court erred in its conclusion that he is a three-strikes litigant under § 1915(g).
Third, Mr. Cohee asserts that defendants’ actions have caused him to “black out.” Doc.
35 at 1. The court recognizes that § 1915(g) provides an exception to the filing fee requirement
when “the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
But Mr. Cohee’s claims never allege that he is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.
Mr. Cohee’s two Complaints assert claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendants
violated his constitutional rights by preventing him from seeing his daughter and finding
employment. Docs. 1, 3. Mr. Cohee’s claim that he has experienced “black outs” from these
actions does not establish that he is “under imminent danger of serious physical injury,” as 28
U.S.C. § 1915(g) requires, to avoid applying the three-strikes rule.
Finally, Mr. Cohee asks that I remove myself from this lawsuit because I sentenced Mr.
Cohee to prison in a separate criminal case. Mr. Cohee asserts that I am not impartial in this
matter, but he provides no facts to support this assertion, other than my involvement in his
underlying conviction. The court construes Mr. Cohee’s request as a motion for recusal under 28
U.S.C. § 455. Doc. 76. Under § 455, a judge must disqualify himself “in any proceeding in
which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” or “[w]here he has a personal bias or
prejudice concerning a party . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 455(a) & (b)(1). The test for determining
impartiality is an objective one, based on a judge’s “outward manifestations and reasonable
inferences drawn therefrom.” Nichols v. Alley, 71 F.3d 347, 351 (10th Cir. 1995) (citation
omitted). Mr. Cohee asserts no facts to support recusal under this standard. He fails to allege
any facts demonstrating that I have a personal bias or prejudice against him or that a reasonable
person might reasonably question my impartiality. To the extent Mr. Cohee is dissatisfied with
the outcome in his criminal case, adverse rulings are no reason for recusal. See Green v.
Branson, 108 F.3d 1296, 1305 (10th Cir. 1997) (stating that “adverse rulings ‘cannot in
themselves form the appropriate grounds for disqualification’” (quoting Green v. Dorrell, 969
F.2d 915, 919 (10th Cir. 1992))).
In sum, Mr. Cohee has not shown good cause why § 1915(g) does not apply here. Mr.
Cohee is a three-strikes litigant, and § 1915(g) requires him pay the filing fee to proceed with
this lawsuit. Although the court already has ordered Mr. Cohee to pay the filing fee, it will give
him one, final opportunity to do so. The court thus orders Mr. Cohee to pay the filing fee, on
or before July 15, 2017. If he does not pay the filing fee by that date, the court will dismiss
his lawsuit without prejudice.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED BY THE COURT THAT plaintiff Donald L.
Cohee must pay the $400 filing fee, on or before July 15, 2017. If Mr. Cohee does not pay
the filing fee by that date, the court will dismiss this lawsuit without prejudice.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated this 30th day of June 2017, at Topeka, Kansas.
s/ Daniel D. Crabtree_____
Daniel D. Crabtree
United States District Judge
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