United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
RECUSAL, ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION, AND DISMISSING
H. CLELAND UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
John Isaac Harris filed his pro se civil rights
complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that
Defendants, all employed by or associated with Eastern
Michigan University, violated his civil rights while he was
studying for a Master's of Public Administration degree.
(Dkt. # 1.) Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, which this
court referred to Magistrate Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). Before the court
is the magistrate judge's report and recommendation (Dkt.
# 18), advising that Defendants' motion be granted.
Plaintiff has timely filed objections to the report and
recommendation (Dkt. # 19), to which Defendants have
responded (Dkt. # 20).
outset, the court must address the motion for recusal (Dkt. #
3) filed by Plaintiff. Under 28 U.S.C. § 455(a) and
(b)(1), a federal judge must disqualify himself from a
proceeding where his “impartiality might reasonably be
questioned” or “[w]here he has a personal bias or
prejudice concerning a party.” The statute is “not
based on the subjective view of a party[.]” Burley
v. Gagacki, 834 F.3d 606, 615-16 (6th Cir. 2016)
(citation omitted). Rather, it “imposes an objective
standard: a judge must disqualify himself where a reasonable
person with knowledge of all the facts would conclude that
the judge's impartiality might reasonably be
questioned.” Id. at 616 (quoting United
States v. Adams, 722 F.3d 788, 837 (6th Cir. 2013))
(internal quotation marks omitted). The burden is on the
moving party to justify disqualification. Id. Where
the question is close, prudence dictates that a judge recuse
himself. U.S. v. Dandy, 998 F.2d 1344, 1349 (6th
Cir. 1993) (citation omitted). However, “a federal
judge has a duty to sit where not
disqualified, which is equally as strong as the duty to
not sit where disqualified.”
Laird v. Tatum, 409 U.S. 824, 8371972) (separate
memorandum of Rehnquist, J.) (emphasis in original)
argues that the court “would be biased and prejudiced
him personally” because he filed a judicial misconduct
complaint against this court following the court's
dismissal of a prior case filed by Plaintiff. (Dkt. # 3, Pg.
ID 119.) Plaintiff goes on to complain that the court was
“unnecessarily harsh on him” in the previous
case, Harris v. Detroit Public Schools, Case No.
12-12331, 2012 WL 4212241 (E.D. Mich. September 20, 2012),
and allege that the court “has a strong relationship
with” Governor Rick Snyder as evidenced by the court
“acting as if [it were] the defense attorney” for
the Governor in the prior case. (Dkt. # 3, Pg. ID 119-21).
judge's prejudice or bias may stem from either personal
or extrajudicial sources, or may arise during the course of
current or prior proceedings. Liteky v. United
States, 510 U.S. 540, 555 (6th Cir. 2012). “A bias
sufficient to justify recusal 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.” Browning v.
Foltz, 837 F.2d 276, 279 (6th Cir. 1988) (quoting
United States v. Story, 716 F.2d 1088, 1090 (6th
Cir. 1983)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Plaintiff's disagreements with how the court interpreted
and applied the law in the prior case do not suggest bias.
See Likely, 510 U.S. at 555 (“Judicial rulings
alone almost never constitute a valid basis for a bias or
partiality motion . . . . Almost invariably, they are proper
grounds for appeal, not for recusal.”) (internal
citation omitted). Neither do comments the court may have
made that Plaintiff took to be “unnecessarily
harsh.” See id., at 555-56
(“Not establishing bias or partiality,
however, are expressions of impatience, dissatisfaction,
annoyance, and even anger, that are within the bounds of what
imperfect men and women, even after having been confirmed as
federal judges, sometimes display.”) (emphasis in
must the court automatically recuse itself because Plaintiff
has previously filed a judicial misconduct complaint. See
Smith v. Kansas Dep't of Corrections, 455 Fed.Appx.
841, 844 (10th Cir. 2011) (“Recusal in a court case is
not required because the judge is the subject of a misconduct
proceeding filed by a litigant in that case.”); In
re Evergreen Sec., Ltd., 570 F.3d 1257 (11th
Cir. 2009) (“The mere filing of a complaint of judicial
misconduct is not grounds for recusal.”); In re
Mann, 299 F.3d 657, 658 (7th Cir. 2000); see also,
e.g., Sango v. Johnson, 2014 WL 8186701, at *1 n.1 (E.D.
Mich. October 29, 2014) (Grand, M.J.) (plaintiff's
judicial misconduct complaint and civil action against
magistrate judge did not require recusal). This is
particularly true given that Plaintiff has apparently filed
misconduct complaints against other judges in this district.
(See Dkt. # 3, Pg. ID 119.) “Care must be
taken . . . that the motion to recuse does not become a
device by which . . . dissatisfied parties . . . may
judge-shop by provoking the removal of judges whom they
perceive to be unsympathetic to their cause.”
Kelley v. Metropolitan Cnty. Bd. of Ed. of Nashiville and
Davidson Cnty., Tennessee, 479 F.2d 810, 813 (6th Cir.
other allegations are conclusory or immaterial. The court is
mindful that, in a close case, judges should err on the side
of recusal. See Dandy, 998 F.2d at 1349. However,
this is not a close case. The mere fact that Plaintiff has
previously filed a frivolous misconduct complaint against
this court based on Plaintiff's disagreement with the
court's interpretation and application of the law in an
unrelated case would not cause “a reasonable person
with knowledge of all the facts” to conclude that the
court's “impartiality might reasonably be
questioned.” Burley, 834 F.3d at 616.
Accordingly, the court will deny Plaintiff's motion for
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
filing of timely objections to a report and recommendation
requires the court to “make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified
findings or recommendations to which objection is
made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). See United
States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667 (1980); United
States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947 (6th Cir. 1981). This
de novo review requires the court to examine the
relevant pleadings and such evidence as may have been
submitted in support of the motions to determine the outcome
of the motions. A failure to file objections, or a failure to
file specific objections, each constitute a waiver
of any further right of appeal. See Thomas v. Arn,
474 U.S. 140 (1985); Howard v. Sec'y of HHS, 932
F.2d 505 (6th Cir. 1991).
order for this court to apply meaningful de novo
review, it is insufficient for the objecting party to simply
incorporate by reference earlier pleadings or reproduce an
earlier unsuccessful motion for dismissal or judgment (or
response to the other party's dispositive motion).
Insufficient objections to a magistrate judge's analysis
will ordinarily be treated by the court as an unavailing
general objection. See Spencer v. Bouchard, 449 F.3d
721, 725 (6th Cir. 2006) (“Overly general objections do
not satisfy the objection requirement.”).
of Plaintiff's objections is complicated by his failure
to organize his brief as directed by the report and
recommendation, which requires that each objection be clearly
labeled as “Objection No. 1, ” “Objection
No. 2, ” and so on, and that each objection
“recite precisely the provision of [the report and
recommendation] to which it pertains.” (Dkt. # 18, Pg.
ID 363.) Rather, Plaintiff's series of “Response[s]
to Objection[s]” is mislabeled and does not clearly
identify the portion of the report and recommendation to
which it refers. (See Dkt. # 19.) Nevertheless, the
court will endeavor to consider Plaintiff's listed
his list, the balance of Plaintiff's brief largely
reasserts the allegations in his complaint and the arguments
made in his prior briefs, as well as accusing the magistrate
judge and this court of impropriety. (See Id. at Pg.
ID 370-85.) This portion of Plaintiff's brief does not
properly raise a specific objection and the court declines to
consider it. See Spencer, 449 F.3d at 725.
first listed objection, titled “Response to Objection
No. 2, ” Plaintiff asserts that the magistrate judge
“fail[ed] to properly recognize the authority of Race
Discrimination in Education under federal law[.]” (Dkt.
# 19, Pg. ID 366.) However, the magistrate judge explained
that Plaintiff complaint did not properly plead specific
allegations of disparate treatment. In particular, the
magistrate judge explained that Plaintiff's generalized
claims that white students were treated differently in class,
and that Plaintiff was treated differently from his class
partner-whose race was not identified-are insufficient. (Dkt.
# 18, Pg. ID 358.) Plaintiff has failed to allege with
specificity how Defendants treated non-black students
differently from how he was treated, or that another
non-black student engaged in the same conduct he did, ...