United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Recuse Magistrate
Judge Richard L. Bourgeois, filed on March 25, 2019. (R. Doc.
32). The Motion has been referred to the undersigned.
support of his request, Plaintiff suggests that recusal is
proper because the undersigned has “shown favoritism to
[defense counsel] by not sanctioning her.” (R. Doc. 32
at 2). Plaintiff also suggests that recusal is appropriate
because the undersigned will “have a difficult time
from this point forward of giving Plaintiff any ‘fair
shake' now that he is aware the Plaintiff seeked [sic] to
have him recused.” Id. Plaintiff's motion
is based on the Court's prior ruling declining to
sanction defense counsel for requesting that Plaintiff file a
legible complaint. (R. Doc. 20). Plaintiff did not appeal or
seek review of that decision, instead filing the instant
motion approximately six weeks later.
Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, judicial recusal is governed
by Title 28, United States Code, Section 455. 28 U.S.C.
§ 455 provides certain circumstances where recusal is
appropriate. 28 U.S.C.§ 455(a) states that any
“justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United
States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which
his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” 28
U.S.C. § 455(b) provides additional circumstances for
recusal, including whether the judge has “a personal
bias or prejudice concerning a party.” The goal of this
statute “is to promote public confidence in the
judicial system by avoiding even the appearance of
partiality.” Levitt v. University of Texas at El
Paso, 847 F.2d 221, 226 (5th Cir. 1988). Accordingly,
§ 455 asks whether “the reasonable man, were he to
know all the circumstances, would harbor doubts about the
judge's impartiality.” Potashnick v. Port City
Constr. Co., 609 F.2d 1101, 1111 (5th Cir. 1980). The
reasonable man viewpoint means the facts are assessed based
on how they would appear to a “well-informed,
thoughtful and objective observer, rather than the
hypersensitive, cynical, and suspicious person.”
United States v. Jordan, 49 F.3d 152, 156 (5th Cir.
Court finds that plaintiff's motion fails to allege any
extrajudicial prejudice. The requirement of extrajudicial
prejudice “means that the alleged attitude and
preconception on the part of the judge must arise from a
source beyond the four corners of the courtroom, and not from
his participation in the case.” Danielson v.
Winnifield Funeral Home of Jefferson, Inc., 634 F.Supp.
1110, 1115 (E.D. La. 1986).
rulings alone almost never constitute valid basis for a bias
or partiality motion.” United States v.
Landerman, 109 F.3d 1053, 1066 (5th Cir. 1997)
(citing Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 555
(1994). The Fifth Circuit has further noted that a
judge's ruling “should constitute grounds for
appeal, not for recusal.” Landerman, 109 F.3d
the factual allegations refer to the undersigned's
decision to deny plaintiff's request that the Court
impose sanctions on defense counsel. In other words, these
allegations only concern actions within “the four
corners of the courtroom.” Accordingly, these
allegations do not warrant recusal. Brown v.
Schedler, 2018 WL 1123568, *2 (E.D. La. Feb. 28, 2018)
(denying recusal on the basis that the complaints at issue
pertained to ruling issued by the trial judge); Nelson v.
Lewis, 10-827-RET-DLD, 2011 WL 2981532, *2 (M.D. La.
July 22, 2011) (denying recusal based on rulings in the
course of the proceeding); Babauta v. Harris County
Sheriff's Office, 2010 WL 4875691 (S.D. Tex. Nov.
23, 2010) (same).
also suggests that the undersigned should recuse himself due
to the fact that it is now known that Plaintiff sought his
recusal. First, the circular logic of this argument is
apparent. Under this rationale, there would never be a need
to determine whether the circumstances of a particular case
warrant recusal or not. Instead, the simple filing of the
motion would be sufficient, as it would then serve as the
same basis for such recusal. This is incorrect.
Plaintiff suggests that the undersigned cannot “be
absolutely impartial with the plaintiff from this point
onward.” Notwithstanding Plaintiff's suggestion,
“it has been consistently held that conclusions,
conjecture, or vague charges of partiality or prejudice are
not sufficient [to] form the basis of
disqualification.” Brown v. Schedler, 2018 WL
1123568, *3 (citing cases). Plaintiff has provided no basis
for this position and none exists. To support recusal,
Plaintiff's showing must be based on specific facts so as
to avoid giving a party a “random veto over the
assignment of judges.” Capizzo v. State, 1999
WL 539439 at *1 (E.D. La. July 22, 1999). Also, a section 455
claim must not be so broadly construed that “recusal is
mandated upon the merest unsubstantiated suggestion of
personal bias or prejudice.” United States v.
Cooley, 1 F.3d 985, 993 (10th Cir.1993).
Plaintiff's request for recusal, and the Court's
decision pertaining to that request, is made in the course of
this proceeding. For the same reasons discussed above, a
ruling in the ...