Dow v. Federal National Mortgage Association et al

Filing 26

ORDER denying 25 Plaintiff's Motion for Recusal; this matter is referred to Chief Judge Martinez for review; signed by Judge Ronald B. Leighton.(DN) Modified on 12/29/2016 (DN). (cc to pltf) (copy sent to Judge Martinez)

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1 HONORABLE RONALD B. LEIGHTON 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT TACOMA 7 8 DANIEL DOW, CASE NO. C16-5812-RBL 9 Plaintiff, 10 ORDER DENYING MOTION AND REFERRING IT TO CHIEF JUDGE v. 11 12 13 FEDERAL NATIONAL MORTGAGE ASSOCIATIONS, et al., DKT. #21, 25 Defendants. 14 THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Daniel Dow’s Motion for Recusal. [Dkt. 15 ##21, 25]. In a letter to the Ninth Circuit, forwarded to the District Court, Dow asks for Judge 16 Leighton’s recusal. He argues Judge Leighton is prejudiced against him because (1) Judge 17 Leighton did not cite to a Gonzaga Law Review article when granting Partial-Defendants’ 18 motion to dismiss [Dkt. #17], and (2) admitted to having a conflict of interest precluding him 19 from presiding over Dow’s case by failing to affirmatively assert he had no conflict. Dow does 20 not specify what this apparent conflict might be. 21 Dow first argued Judge Leighton was unfit to serve as a federal judge a few months ago 22 in Dow v. Bank of America et al., 3:16-cv-5235-RBL. The Court dismissed Dow’s claims 23 without prejudice because he had failed to file an amended complaint plausibly stating a claim 24 ORDER DENYING MOTION AND REFERRING IT TO CHIEF JUDGE - 1 1 for relief and had refused to pay the Court’s filing fee. Dow responded by filing a “Notice re 2 Impeachment of Ronald B. Leighton,” arguing Judge Leighton had ignored Bank of America’s 3 fraud, in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct: 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Dkt. #24. Dow immediately filed a complaint in this case, which is even less intelligible than his 12 13 first complaint. On December 1, 2016, the Court granted Partial-Defendants’ motion to dismiss 14 because rather than articulating a plausible claim for relief against them, Dow railed against the 15 banking industry and the government generally. The Court warned him it would dismiss his 16 remaining claims unless he paid the filing fee or applied to proceed in forma pauperis within 14 17 days. 18 Dow responded by filing a notice of appeal and a letter requesting Judge Leighton’s 19 removal. His appeal appears to concern his first case because he argues its dismissal 20 demonstrates Judge Leighton’s unfitness to serve: 21 22 23 24 DKT. #21, 25 - 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Dkt. 22. His letter, which the Ninth Circuit forwarded to this Court, contains much of the same information and asks for Judge Leighton’s removal. In it, Dow additionally argues Judge Leighton is prejudiced against him because (1) Judge Leighton did not cite to a Gonzaga Law Review article and (2) did not affirmatively state he had no conflicts of interest. A federal judge should recuse himself if “a reasonable person with knowledge of all the facts would conclude that the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” 28 U.S.C. §144; see also 28 U.S.C. § 455; Yagman v. Republic Insurance, 987 F.2d 622, 626 (9th Cir. 1993). This is an objective inquiry concerned with whether there is the appearance of bias, not whether there is bias in fact. See Preston v. United States, 923 F.2d 731, 734 (9th Cir. 1992); see also United States v. Conforte, 624 F.2d 869, 881 (9th Cir. 1980). Under the Local Rules of this District, a motion for recusal is addressed first to the presiding judge, and if the judge does not recuse voluntarily, the matter is referred to the chief judge for review. See LCR 3(e). This Court therefore considers Dow’s motion in the first instance. Dow has not demonstrated that a reasonable person would question Judge Leighton’s impartiality. He has identified no specific (or general) conflict or bias. He instead grieves the Court’s dismissal of his claims, which he argues supports a finding of prejudice and unfitness. A reasonable person would not conclude the Court’s citing to sources more persuasive than a Law DKT. #21, 25 - 3 1 Review article and its silence about non-existent conflicts of interest demonstrate prejudice or 2 lack of ability. Nor would a reasonable person conclude the Court’s decision to dismiss Dow’s 3 claims for failure to pay the filing fee, after repeatedly instructing him to do so, suggests bias 4 against Dow. Accordingly, the Court will not recuse itself from this case voluntarily. Dow’s 5 Motion for Recusal [Dkt. ##21, 25] is DENIED. Under LCR 3(e), this Matter is referred to Chief 6 Judge Martinez for review. 7 Dated this 29th day of December, 2016. A 8 9 Ronald B. Leighton United States District Judge 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 DKT. #21, 25 - 4

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