United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
MAURICE HICKS, JR.UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is a Motion to Recuse (Record Document 86) filed by
the defendant, Paul Joseph Viola (“Viola”). Viola
seeks recusal of the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
455. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Recuse is
26, 2017, one of the Government's witnesses, Officer
Craig Crawford (“Officer Crawford”), notified
counsel for the Government that “Judge Hicks was his
uncle.” Record Document 86-1; Record Document 87.
Counsel for the Government informed both the Court and
opposing counsel and a telephone status conference was
convened. See Record Document 87. The undersigned
directed defense counsel to file a Motion to Recuse, which is
now before the Court.
has moved for recusal under 28 U.S.C. § 455(a) &
(b). Section 455(b)(5)(iv) provides:
judge] shall also disqualify himself in the following
. . .
or his spouse, or a person within the third degree
of relationship to either of them, or the spouse of such a
. . .
to the judge's knowledge likely to be a material witness
in the proceeding.
U.S.C. § 455(b)(5)(iv) (emphasis added). Section
455(d)(2) directs that the degree of relationship is
calculated according to the civil law system. In Njie v.
Lubbock Cty., Tex., 999 F.Supp. 858, 862 (N.D. Tex.
1998), aff'd sub nom., Njie v. Lubbock Cty.,
Tex., 200 F.3d 816 (5th Cir. 1999), the court stated:
to the civil law system:
[P]arents and children of a deceased are related to him in
the first degree. The second degree comprises the
grandparents, grandchildren, brothers, and sisters of the
deceased. Uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, and
great-grandparents of the deceased are related to him in the
third degree. The fourth degree of relationship includes
first cousins, great-uncles and great aunts, and
great-great-grandparents. The children of a [first] cousin
(first cousin once removed), the great-great-uncles and
great-great-aunts, and the children of a great-uncle or great
aunt are related in the fifth degree. . . .
See 23 Am. Jur. 2d Descent and Distribution §
at 862. Likewise, the Louisiana ...