United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
May 1, 2014
ANTONELLO BOLDRINI, Plaintiff,
LEWIS WETZEL, et al., Defendants.
A. RICHARD CAPUTO, District Judge.
Presently before the Court is Plaintiff Antonello Boldrini's Motion for Recusal and to Stay Proceeding. (Doc. 21.) Plaintiff seeks to have this action stayed pending a determination of his request that I recuse myself (and Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Blewitt) from hearing this case and any other case in which he is involved. Plaintiff's sole basis for seeking recusal relates to a "Verified Private Criminal Complaint" he filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on October 11, 2013. In that complaint, I am charged with the "commission of felony as accessory after the fact." Essentially, Plaintiff contends that I committed a crime by ruling against him in a prior civil action.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 144, a federal district court judge must recuse if a party "files a timely and sufficient affidavit that the judge... has a personal bias or prejudice either against [that party] or in favor of any adverse party." Additionally, irrespective of whether a party files a motion for recusal, a judge "shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned." 28 U.S.C. § 455(a).
Plaintiff's motion will be denied. As I have explained in another case,
Judicial rulings alone almost never constitute a valid basis for a bias or partiality motion. Almost invariably, they are proper grounds for appeal, not for recusal. "Opinions formed by the judge on the basis of facts introduced or events occurring in the course of the current proceedings, or of prior proceedings, do not constitute a basis for a bias or partiality motion unless they display a deep-seated favoritism or antagonism that would make fair judgment impossible."
Morris v. Kesserling, No. 09-1739, 2012 WL 278727, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 31, 2012) (internal citation omitted) (quoting Liteky v. U.S., 510 U.S. 540, 554-55, 114 S.Ct. 1147, 127 L.Ed.2d 474 (1994)); see also Securacomm Consulting, Inc. v. Securacom, Inc., 224 F.3d 273, 278 (3d Cir. 2000) ("a party's displeasure with legal rulings does not form an adequate basis for recusal"). For the reasons explained throughout his prior litigation, Plaintiff was unable to establish his claims against Defendants in that case. Such a determination does not demonstrate bias or partiality warranting recusal in this case.
Moreover, a litigant "cannot manufacture grounds for recusal by making outlandish accusations against the presiding judge or vague accusations of conspiracy against him." Forrest v. Sauers, No. 12-318, 2013 WL 1857540, at *2 (W.D. Pa. May 2, 2013) (citing Jones v. Pittsburgh Nat'l Corp., 899 F.2d 1350, 1355-57 (3d Cir. 1990)); see also United States v. Studley, 783 F.2d 934, 940 (9th Cir. 1986) ("A judge is not disqualified by a litigant's suit or threatened suit against him, or by a litigant's intemperate and scurrilous attacks."). Here, Plaintiff's allegations of criminal wrongdoing are without foundation and do not justify recusal. And, it is necessary to note that where issues of recusal arise, "a federal judge has a duty to sit where not disqualified which is equally as strong as the duty to not sit where disqualified." Laird v. Tatum, 409 U.S. 824, 837, 93 S.Ct. 7, 34 L.Ed.2d 50 (1972); see also United States v. Greenough, 782 F.2d 1556, 1558 (11th Cir. 1986) (holding that recusal based on the mere accusation of bias, without factual support, would lead to the unacceptable result of giving litigants or third parties veto power over the assignment of judges). As no legitimate justification for recusal has been presented, recusal is not warranted.
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff Antonello Boldrini's Motion for Recusal and to Stay Proceeding (Doc. 21) is DENIED.