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Merriweather v. Hoffner

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

January 13, 2017

WILLIAM A. MERRIWEATHER, Petitioner,
v.
BONITA J. HOFFNER, Warden, Respondent.

          PRESENT: Honorable Gerald E. Rosen United States District Judge

          ORDER DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION FOR RECUSAL

          Gerald E. Rosen, United States District Judge

         This habeas corpus matter is presently before the Court on Petitioner William Merriweather's Motion for Recusal of the undersigned Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 144[1] which states:

Whenever a party to any proceeding in a district makes a and files a timely and sufficient affidavit that the judge before whom the matter is pending has a personal bias and prejudice either against him or in favor of any adverse party, such judge shall proceed no further therein, but another judge shall be assigned to hear such proceeding.
The affidavit shall state the facts and reasons for the belief that bias or prejudice exists, and shall be filed not less than ten days before the beginning of the term at which the proceeding is to be heard or good cause shall be shown for failure to file it within such time. A party may file only one such affidavit in any case. It shall be accompanied by a certificate of counsel of record stating that it is made in good faith.

28 U.S.C. § 144.

         Recusal motions are matters committed to the sound discretion of the assigned district judge. In re M. Ibrahim Khan, P.S.C., 751 F.2d 162, 165 (6th Cir. 1984); Kelley v. Metropolitan County Board of Education, 479 F.2d 810, 811 (6th Cir. 1973); United States v. Hatchett, 978 F.2d 1259, 1992 WL 296865 (6th Cir. 1992).

         The Sixth Circuit has explicitly determined that disqualification under § 144 must be predicated upon extrajudicial conduct rather than judicial conduct, and that allegations of bias “must be a personal bias as distinguished from a judicial one, arising out of the judge's background and association and not from the judge's view of the law.” Easley v. University of Michigan Board of Regents, 853 F.2d 1351, 1355-1356 (6th Cir. 1988).

         The court clarified the meaning of “personal” bias in Parker v. Sill, 989 F.2d 500, 1993 WL 87432 (6th Cir. 1993): “To be disqualifying the alleged bias of the judge must stem from an extrajudicial source and result in an opinion on the merits on some basis other than what the judge learned from his participation in the case.” Id., 1993 WL 87432 at *2 (citing United States v. Grinnell Corp., 384 U.S. 563, 583 (1966). See also Green v. Nevers, 111 F.3d 1195, 1303-04 (6th Cir. 1997) (disqualification under both § 144 and § 455 must be predicated “upon extrajudicial conduct rather than on judicial conduct” and upon “a personal bias ‘as distinguished from judicial one, ' arising ‘out of the judge's background and association' and not from the ‘judge's view of the law.'” (quoting Oliver v. Michigan State Board of Education, 508 F.2d 178, 180 (6th Cir.1974), cert. denied, 421 U.S. 963 (1975)); United States v. Hatchett, supra, 1992 WL 296865 (“Personal bias is prejudice that emanates from some source other than participation in the proceedings. . . .” Id. at *4).

         In assessing whether such personal bias exists to warrant disqualification, the Sixth Circuit standard is that a district judge is required to recuse himself “only if a reasonable person with knowledge of all the facts would conclude that the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” Wheeler v. Southland Corp., 875 F.2d 1246, 1251 (6th Cir. 1989). This standard is an objective one, and “is not based on the subjective view of a party.” Id. However, a judge's decisions are not biased just because the judge has a particular point of view on the law. Parchman v. U.S. Dep't of Agriculture, 852 F.2d 858, 866 (6th Cir. 1988).

         Petitioner Merriweather's allegations of bias/prejudice in this case deal only with the Court's judicial rulings in this action. There are no facts to objectively establish such personal bias emanating from a source other than the Court's participation in this case to warrant disqualification.

         Therefore, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Petitioner's Motion for Recusal [Dkt. # 110] is DENIED.

         Before Petitioner may appeal from this Order, a certificate of appealability must issue. See 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1)(a); Fed. R. App. P. 22(b). A certificate of appealability may issue “only if the applicant has made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). To make the required showing, the movant must show that reasonable jurists could debate whether the matter could have been resolved differently or whether the claims raised deserved further review. Johnson v. Bell, 605 F.3d 333, 339 (6th Cir. 2010). The court concludes that jurists of reason would not find the Court's denial of Merriweather's Motion for Recusal debatable. The Court also will also deny Petitioner ...


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