United States District Court, D. Montana, Butte Division
TERRY JACKSON, d.b.a W.S.A.E & W.C. LLC Plaintiff,
CITY OF BOZEMAN, and GREG SULLIVAN, City Attorney, Defendants.
JEREMIAH C. LYNCH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
March 6, 2019, Plaintiff Terry Jackson, appearing pro se,
filed a motion titled “Motion disparate impact”.
The motion, consistent with the allegations in his complaint,
asserts he has been subjected to discrimination. But the
motion does not request any specific relief.
Civ. P. 7(b) requires that a motion filed with the Court must
“state with particularity the grounds for seeking the
order[, ]” and it must “state the relief
sought.” Jackson's March 6, 2019 motion does
neither. Therefore, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the motion is
March 13, 2019, Jackson filed a motion asking that presiding
United States District Court Judge Brian Morris and I both
disqualify ourselves from further involvement in this matter.
Because such a motion must be decided by the judge whose
impartiality is being questioned,  this order addresses
Jackson's motion only to the extent it applies to me. In
that respect, his motion is denied.
does not identify a statutory basis for his motion.
Therefore, I will construe the motion as a request for my
disqualification under 28 U.S.C. § 455. Section 455 is a
self-executing disqualification statute. It provides in
relevant 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
(1) Where 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(a) and (b).
test for disqualification under § 455(a) is an objective
one, pursuant to which recusal is appropriate if “a
reasonable person with knowledge of all the facts would
conclude that the judge's impartiality might reasonably
be questioned.” United States v. Hernandez,
109 F.3d 1450, 1453 (9th Cir. 1997). This
“reasonable third-party observer” is not
“hypersensitive or unduly suspicious, ” and
“is not a ‘partly informed
man-in-the-street[.]'” United States v.
Holland, 519 F.3d 909, 914 (9th Cir. 2008).
Rather, the reasonable person is a “well-informed,
thoughtful observer, ” and “someone who
‘understands all the relevant facts' and has
examined the record and the law.” Holland, 519
F.3d at 914.
motion presents very incoherent arguments in support of his
request for recusal. As best as can be ascertained from his
motion, it appears Jackson merely speculates that when I was
a private lawyer engaged in the practice of law prior to
becoming a judge, I may have had some contact with some of
the parties or witnesses involved in this case. Beyond his
speculation, Jackson does not identify any actual prior
connection or involvement I had with any party or witness.
His speculation does not present facts on which an objective
person would conclude that my impartiality might reasonably
important to note that the objective standard to be applied
under section 455 must “‘not be so broadly
construed that it becomes, in effect, presumptive, so that
recusal is mandated upon the merest suggestion of personal
bias or prejudice.'” Holland, 519 F.3d at
913 (quoting United States v. Cooley, 1 F.3d 985,
993 (10th Cir. 1993)). “[J]udges are not to
recuse themselves lightly under § 455(a)” and
should participate in cases assigned if there is no
legitimate reason for recusal. United States v. Sierra
Pacific Industries, 2010 WL 4777842 *6 (E.D. Cal. 2010)
(quoting United States v. Synder, 235 F.3d 42, 45
(1st Cir. 2000)); Holland, 519 F.3d at
912. In other words, judges “must not simply recuse out
of an abundance of caution when the facts do not warrant
recusal. Rather, there is an equally compelling obligation
not to recuse where recusal is not appropriate.”
Sierra Pacific Industries, 2010 WL 4777842 *2
(citing Holland, 519 F.3d at 912).
recuse myself under the speculative circumstances Jackson
suggests might exist would be to encourage the misuse of 28
U.S.C. § 455. In fact, I have an obligation to not
recuse myself under these circumstances. See e.g. In re
Yellowstone Mountain Club, LLC, 2011 WL 766979 *5
(Bkrtcy. D. Mont. 2011) (recognizing that a judge has a
“corresponding obligation to not recuse and to serve on
assigned cases when no reason to recuse exists”).
Jackson has not identified any legitimate basis for my
recusal under section 455, IT IS ORDERED that Jackson's
motion for disqualification or ...