The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conner
The above-captioned action has been assigned to the undersigned Judge. Before proceeding further on this matter, the parties must evaluate the participation of the undersigned Judge in light of the following: Elyse E. Rogers, Esquire, a member of the law firm of Keefer, Wood, Allen & Rahal, has performed professional services for the undersigned's mother in the resolution of the Estate of W. Bennett Conner, the undersigned's deceased father.
Section 455 of Title 28 of the United States Code governs disqualification of a District Court Judge. Subsection (b) of § 455 identifies grounds mandating disqualification even if the parties are willing to waive recusal. None of the circumstances described in subsection (b) apply here.
Subsection (a) of § 455 requires disqualification "in any proceeding in which [the Judge's] impartiality might be reasonably questioned." That circumstance does apply here.
Subsection (e) of § 455 provides that "[w]here the ground for disqualification arises only under Subsection (a), waiver may be accepted provided it is preceded by a full disclosure on the record of the basis for disqualification." Section 455 requires that the Judge inquire as to whether all parties are agreeable to waive the ground for disqualification.
Accordingly, the attached Disqualification Disclosure Form must be completed by each and every party or the party's representative and sent only to the Clerk of Court, Attn: Gary Hollinger, Chief Deputy Clerk. The Disqualification Disclosure Forms should not be sent to other counsel. Only if all parties agree will the undersigned Judge continue participation in the proceeding. If the disqualification is not waived by any party, the case will be reassigned to another Judge.
Please be assured of confidentiality in this matter. All responses to this Order will be maintained by the Clerk and not disclosed to the undersigned Judge, nor will the Judge be informed of the identity of any party who declined to waive the disqualification.
AND NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT:
1. Forms indicating each party's waiver or non-waiver of the grounds for disqualification disclosed herein shall be sent to the Clerk of Court no later than March 31, 2008.
2. In the absence of waivers of conflict of interest from all parties, the undersigned shall be disqualified from this proceeding.
3. The Clerk of Court is directed to serve a copy of this Order on counsel for Plaintiffs and Defendants by facsimile and U.S. mail.
4. On or before April 2, 2008, the Clerk of Court shall, without disclosing the position of any party, inform this Court of whether all parties have consented to participation by the undersigned in this case.
CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER United States ...