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Williams v. Magnolia Cafe

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

December 30, 2019

STACEY WILLIAMS
v.
MAGNOLIA CAFÉ, ET AL.

          RULING AND ORDER

          ERIN WILDER-DOOMES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is an “Amended Motion to Compel/Motion to Compel, ” (the “Motion for Recusal”), [1] filed by Plaintiff Stacey Williams (“Plaintiff”). To the extent the Motion seeks recusal, it will be denied.[2] To the extent the Motion seeks withdrawal of Plaintiff's consent to the referral of this matter to a magistrate judge, [3] the Motion will also be denied.

         I. Factual Background

         Plaintiff formerly worked for Defendants in St. Francisville, Louisiana for about six months. On November 16, 2018, Plaintiff filed her Complaint pro se in this Court, claiming that, Defendants discriminated against her during her employment on the basis of her race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[4] In connection with her claims, Plaintiff demands “punitive damages wages owed” and “max dollar amount for discrimination, ” a public apology for herself, and an apology to other employees who have experienced discrimination by Defendants.[5]

         On March 22, 2019, the parties consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge.[6] Since the filing of the Complaint, the undersigned has received and addressed multiple letters (some liberally construed as motions in light of Plaintiff's pro se status) from Plaintiff, and has conducted a telephone status conference, an in-person scheduling conference, and an in-person status conference with the parties in order to facilitate scheduling and discovery.[7] Just prior to the last in-person status conference on November 21, 2019, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion, wherein she explicitly seeks recusal of the undersigned and Chief United States District Judge Shelly D. Dick, as follows (in pertinent part):

Misconduct issues Also with Respect to ask the Judges in this case to Recuse yourselves..I would like to have another Judge Preside over this case it is my belief that favoritism and unfairness is taking place! Re-Schedule this Motion/Conference by a new Judge effective immediately….
8. There is alot of one-sidedness in this case and seems to be in the Counsel for the defendants favor..counsel should not have been able to do all of the things he's done unnoticed.[8] Information on subpoenas being blocked etc…..This is unfairness to the Plaintiff …this is unjust behavior and a violation of the oath taken by Justices and Judges(lawyers) 28 .U.S.Code double s 453. Misconduct![9]

         The Plaintiff was permitted to discuss the basis for the Motion for Recusal at the November 21, 2019 hearing and the undersigned explained to Plaintiff that Chief Judge Dick is no longer presiding over the case because the parties consented to the handling of the case by a magistrate judge. The Motion for Recusal was taken under advisement following the in-person conference.

         II. Law and Analysis

         A. Plaintiff's Request for Recusal Lacks Any Showing of Bias or Prejudice and Will Be Denied

         Two statutes govern recusal motions:[10] 28 U.S.C. § 144 and 28 U.S.C. § 455.[11] § 144 states as follows:

Whenever a party to any proceeding in a district court makes and files a timely and sufficient affidavit that the judge before whom the matter is pending has a personal bias or 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 the 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.

         Other courts have held that a pro se litigant may not obtain disqualification of a presiding judge on under § 144 because a pro se litigant cannot meet the plain language of the statute requiring “a certificate of counsel of record stating that it [the affidavit in support of recusal] is made in good faith.”[12] Thus, recusal under § 144 is not applicable.

         § 455 reads, in pertinent part, as follows:

(a) Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned. (b) He shall also disqualify himself in the following circumstances: (1) Where he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal ...

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