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Jones v. Geo Group Inc

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

February 5, 2018

PAUL C. JONES D.O.C. # 403455
v.
GEO GROUP INC., ET AL.

         SECTION P

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          KATHLEEN KAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the court are a Motion for Recusal [doc. 19] and Motion to Amend [doc. 20] filed in the instant suit by plaintiff Paul Jones who is proceeding pro se in this matter. Jones is an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections and is currently incarcerated at Elayn Hunt Correctional Institute in St. Gabriel, Louisiana. See doc. 19, att. 3. His complaint relates to events that occurred while he was incarcerated at Allen Correctional Center in Kinder, Louisiana.

         I.

         Background

         Jones filed a civil rights suit in this court on June 19, 2017, and was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”). Docs. 1, 4. Upon initial review of his complaint, however, we determined that he was barred from proceeding IFP due to his history of filing at least three complaints that were dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) as frivolous or failing to state a claim on which relief could be granted. Doc. 13, pp. 1-2. We also determined that Jones's allegations did not meet the exception, under § 1915(g), through which a prisoner might proceed IFP despite his history of dismissals if he can show that he “is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.” Id. Accordingly, by order dated October 20, 2017, we rescinded our prior grant of IFP status and ordered Jones to pay the full filing fee, $400, within twenty days. Id. at 3. Jones was warned that failure to comply and pay the full filing fee would result in the pleadings being stricken from the record. Id.

         On November 29, 2017, the court received payment in the amount of $20.00 from Jones, via transaction posted on November 17. See Unnumbered Docket Entry, November 29, 2017. Jones then submitted two requests for documents, received on December 8, 2017. Docs. 14, 15. On December 27, 2017, noting that Jones had not complied with our previous order by paying the full filing fee within the allotted time period, we ordered that his complaint be stricken from the record.[1] Doc. 17.

         Jones now moves for our recusal, disputing our conclusion of no imminent danger in the order rescinding his IFP status. Doc. 19; doc. 19, att. 1. He also seeks to amend his complaint in order to “specify facts giving rise to [his] suit” and “identify[] other defendants involved.” Doc. 20, att. 1, p. 1. In his memoranda in support of these motions, he also provides his post-filing transfer history, stating that he was transferred from Allen Correctional Center to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center on June 26, 2017, then from Elayn Hunt Correctional Center to Dixon Correctional Institute on August 14, 2017, then from Dixon Correctional Institute back to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center on December 4, 2017. Doc. 19, att. 1, p. 3; doc. 20, att. 1, p. 3.

         We first consider whether there is any basis for recusal and then whether Jones should be allowed to reopen his case and amend his complaint.

         II.

         Law & Analysis

         A. Motion to Recuse

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 455, grounds for recusal include the judge's bias or prejudice concerning a party, personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts, or when the judge's partiality “might reasonably be questioned.” Andrade v. Chojnacki, 338 F.3d 448, 454 (5th Cir. 2003). “[T]he alleged bias must be personal, as distinguished from judicial, in nature.” United States v. Scroggins, 485 F.3d 824, 830 (5th Cir. 2007). Accordingly, “[a]dverse judicial rulings will support a claim of bias only if they reveal an opinion based on an extrajudicial source or if they demonstrate such a high degree of antagonism as to make fair judgment impossible.” Id.

         Jones presents nothing other than his disagreement with our ruling in this matter, alleging that it reflects a lack of competency and that we should thus be disqualified from handling his case.[2] The ruling he challenges was a determination, made based on our consideration of other decisions in this district and courts in the Middle District of Louisiana, that his ...


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