The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conner
Before the court is a motion to recuse filed by plaintiff Steven G. Conklin ("Conklin"). (Doc. 60.) The question presented by plaintiff's motion is whether the court's decision to sanction plaintiff's counsel, Attorney Don Bailey, for his unprofessional conduct in the instant matter requires the court to recuse. For the reasons that follow, the court answers this question in the negative and, hence, will deny plaintiff's motion.
As a threshold matter, the court observes that the instant motion to recuse and supporting brief are presented in a peculiar manner. Both are signed by counsel of record, Attorney Bailey, yet the narrative purports to be that of the plaintiff personally. Paragraph 16 of the motion declares:
These decisions are plaintiffs [sic] and are not the decisions or reasonings of plaintiff's counsel, although counsel has indicated to plaintiff that he does concur in plaintiff's analysis of the law and facts in this circumstance.
(Doc. 60 ¶ 16.) In reality, this attempt to transfer to Mr. Conklin responsibility for the contents of the motion and brief is ineffectual in light of Rule 11(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which provides, in pertinent part, that [b]y presenting to the court (whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating) a pleading, written motion, or other paper, an attorney . . . is certifying that to the best of [his] knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances, -
(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation;
(2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions therein are warranted by existing law or by a non-frivolous argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law; [and]
(3) the allegations and other factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery . . . .
FED. R. CIV. P. 11(b). Attorney Bailey's act of signing the motion to recuse carries with it the explicit representations and confluent obligations of Rule 11. That Attorney Bailey chose to submit a motion and brief ostensibly prepared by his client does not alter his fundamental obligations under Rule 11. See Greenfield v. U.S. Healthcare, Inc., 146 F.R.D. 118, 125 (E.D. Pa. 1993) ("Under Rule 11, the signer's duty to conduct a reasonable inquiry is not delegable . . . ."); Fleekop v. Mann Music Ctr., Civ. A. No. 89-6846, 1990 WL 204253, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 12, 1990) ("Rule 11 requires an attorney to do more than merely rely on a client's version of the facts before certifying that a claim is well-grounded in fact.") (citing Mary Ann Pennisiero, Inc. v. Lingle, 847 F.2d 90, 94 (3d Cir. 1988)).
This method of raising the recusal issue is problematic in that it presents as a pro se motion. It does not identify any statutory basis for disqualification. Nor does it identify any applicable caselaw. Consequently, the court is burdened with an analysis without the benefit of meaningful research from the moving party. In short, the irregular manner of presentation chosen by plaintiff's counsel has unduly complicated the court's review of the matter. Although the manner of presentation does not comport with Rule 11, the court will refrain from any formal sanctions. It is, however, another example of counsel's non-conformance which burdens and frustrates judicial review. (See, e.g., Doc. 43 at 2 n.2; infra note 1.)
The court also recognizes that it has the option of issuing a second*fn1 order on briefing, but, in the interest of expediting resolution of this matter, the court will proceed with an analysis of the recusal motion based upon the record before it and the court's independent research. To facilitate this analysis, the court must set forth certain background facts and procedural developments.
II. Factual Background and Procedural History Relevant to the ...