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William Victor v. R.M. Lawler

February 18, 2011

WILLIAM VICTOR,
PLAINTIFF, :
v.
R.M. LAWLER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge Nealon)

(Magistrate Judge Carlson)

MEMORANDUM ORDER

I. Statement of Facts and of the Case.

This is a civil rights action brought by William Victor, an inmate who was formerly confined in the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon ("SCIHuntingdon"). In his complaint, Victor, who is proceeding pro se, has named an array of Defendants, including the prison superintendent and other employees of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections at SCI-Huntingdon. Victor alleges that on June 28, 2008, he was assaulted by Corrections Officers while being moved between cells in the Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU") at SCI-Huntingdon. Attachment to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint at ¶ 6. Victor's jaw was allegedly broken in this assault, requiring medical treatment outside the prison.

In August of 2009, the undersigned was appointed as a United States Magistrate Judge, and was assigned to this case. (Doc. 133.) Victor was notified of this assigned by August 31, 2009, and voiced no objection to the case assignment. Over the following 16 months, the Court has addressed hundreds of matters with the Plaintiff, and the parties, (Docs. 133-322), and has entered dozens of orders in this case, all without objection from Victor, or any other party. In every instance the Court has endeavored to be guided solely by the law and the facts in ruling on the matters presented to it. Using these guideposts, the Court has, in fact, entered numerous rulings that either granted Victor relief, or denied relief requested by the Defendants. (Docs. 145, 155, 159, 164, 171, 188, 194, 202, 216, 220, 232, 245, 278, 279, 285, and 287.) At no time during this extensive 16-month process has Victor raised any concerns regarding the role of the Court in these proceedings.

Victor has now filed a motion to recuse the undersigned judicial officer, and an accompanying brief. (Docs. 319 and 320), which allege some unspecified form of "collusion" by the Court with state authorities, and further asserts, without any supporting evidence or affidavits, that Victor believes at some unidentified date and time he wrote to the United States Attorney's Office seeking a criminal investigation of matters at issue in this civil action, during the undersigned's tenure in that office, and did not receive relief from that office. The parties have fully briefed this motion, (Docs. 320 and 321), and this matter is now ripe for resolution.

For the reasons set forth below, the motion to recuse (Doc. 319) will be denied without prejudice.

II. Discussion

A. Recusal of This Court is Not Warranted at This Time

The legal standards which govern recusal requests like the request propounded by Victor were aptly defined by this Court in Conklin v. Warrington Township, 476 F. Supp. 2d 458 (M.D. Pa. 2007) when the Court explained that: The disqualification standard is set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 455, which provides 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 ...


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