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United States v. Bundy

United States District Court, D. Nevada

November 7, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
RYAN C. BUNDY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Gloria M. Navarro, Chief Judge United States District Court.

         Pending before the Court is pro se Defendant Ryan C. Bundy's (“Defendant's”) Motion for Chief Judge Gloria Navarro to Recuse Herself. (ECF No. 2624). The Government filed a Response, (ECF No. 2720), and Defendant filed a Reply. (ECF No. 2780).

         I. BACKGROUND

         On March 2, 2016, a federal grand jury sitting in the District of Nevada returned a Superseding Indictment charging Defendant and eighteen other co-defendants with sixteen counts related to a confrontation occurring on April 12, 2014, with Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) Officers in Bunkerville, Nevada. (Superseding Indictment, ECF No. 27).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Generally, absent a legitimate reason to recuse, “a judge should participate in cases assigned.” United States v. Holland, 519 F.3d 909, 912 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing Maier v. Orr, 758 F.2d 1578, 1583 (Fed. Cir. 1985); United States v. Snyder, 235 F.3d 42, 46 (1st Cir. 2000)).

         Two statutes apply to judicial recusal. First, 28 U.S.C. § 144 states in pertinent part:

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 judge against whom recusal is sought determines the legal sufficiency of the motion. See United States v. Azhocar, 581 F.2d 735, 738 (9th Cir. 1978). The statutory mandate to “proceed no further” applies only after the court determines the legal sufficiency of the affidavit. Id. Second, 28 U.S.C. § 455 specifically governs the instances and circumstances for disqualification.

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 455(a) “[a]ny justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” A judge shall disqualify himself “[w]here he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 455(b)(1). “Section 455(a) asks whether a reasonable person perceives a significant risk that the judge will resolve the case on a basis other than the merits.” Holland, 519 F.3d at 913 (quoting In re Mason, 916 F.2d 384, 385 (7th Cir.1990)). “The ‘reasonable person' is not someone who is ‘hypersensitive or unduly suspicious, ' but rather is a ‘well-informed, thoughtful observer.'” Id. (quoting In re Mason, 916 F.2d at 386).

         The judge must apply an objective standard that requires

recusal if a reasonable third-party observer would perceive that there is a ‘significant risk' that the judge will be influenced by the threat and resolve the case on a basis other than the merits. The reasonable third-party observer is not a ‘partly informed man-in-the-street, ' but rather someone who ‘understand[s] all the relevant facts' and has examined the record and law.

Id. (quoting LoCascio v. United States, 473 F.3d 493, 496 (2d Cir.2007)) (emphasis added).

         III. ...


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