Lyall v. Federal Bureau of Investigation

Filing 39

ORDER REFERRING MOTION: Plaintiff's 36 MOTION to Dismiss Voluntarily; motion referred to Chief Judge Ricardo S Martinez for review, signed by Judge Robert S. Lasnik. (SWT)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 7 8 9 10 11 MARTA D. LYALL, Plaintiff, 12 FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, Defendant. 15 16 ORDER v. 13 14 Case No. C15-1818RSL This matter comes before the Court on plaintiff Marta Lyall’s “Motion to Voluntarily 17 Dismiss without Prejudice.” Dkt. # 36. Federal Civil Rule 41 provides that a plaintiff may 18 voluntarily dismiss an action without prejudice and without a court order if the parties have 19 entered into a stipulation to that effect or if the opposing party has not yet filed an answer or 20 motion for summary judgment. Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(1)(A). Defendant, the Federal Bureau of 21 Investigation (FBI), has already filed an answer to Ms. Lyall’s complaint and has not stipulated 22 to a dismissal without prejudice. Indeed, the FBI has a motion to dismiss with prejudice pending 23 before the Court. Dkt. # 29. 24 The Court would otherwise be inclined to resolve the FBI’s motion along with Ms. 25 Lyall’s instant motion, but the latter raises a number of allegations that call into question the 26 Court’s ability to rule impartially. In particular, Ms. Lyall asserts “there is little chance the court 27 would be able to be unbiased regarding this case, and the Plaintiff’s argument would be 28 ORDER - 1 1 useless.” Dkt. # 36 at 3. Ms. Lyall seeks to have the claim dismissed without prejudice, among 2 other reasons, “so that [she] can pursue her rights in this case at a later date, with a different 3 Judge who is not friends with parties who oppose the Plaintiff’s film project.” Id. Ms. Lyall 4 essentially seeks a recusal and that this matter’s pending issues be resolved by a different judge. 5 The Court is therefore compelled to address the question of its own ability to rule in this case 6 before resolving the case’s pending issues. 7 Federal law provides that if a party sufficiently alleges a judge “has a personal bias or 8 prejudice either against [that party] or in favor of any adverse party, such judge shall proceed no 9 further therein, but another judge shall be assigned to hear such proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 144. In 10 addition, a judge “shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might 11 reasonably be questioned.” Id. § 455. A judge must recuse himself if a reasonable person would 12 believe he is unable to be impartial. Yagman v. Republic Ins., 987 F.2d 622, 626 (9th Cir. 1993). 13 A litigant may not, however, use the recusal process to remove a judge based on adverse rulings 14 in the pending case—that is, the alleged bias must result from an extrajudicial source. United 15 States v. Studley, 783 F.2d 934, 939 (9th Cir. 1986). 16 The Court finds nothing in Ms. Lyall’s motion or the record suggesting the Court’s 17 impartiality can reasonably be questioned in this matter. There being no evidence of bias or 18 prejudice, the undersigned declines to recuse himself. Before the Court can proceed to resolution 19 of this matter’s pending issues, however, LCR 3(f) requires that the matter be referred for 20 review. The Clerk of Court is accordingly directed to refer this motion to Chief Judge Ricardo S. 21 Martinez for review. 22 23 DATED this 13th day of November, 2017. 24 25 26 A Robert S. Lasnik 27 United States District Judge 28 ORDER - 2

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