United States District Court, D. Delaware
HONORABLE MARYELLEN NOREIKA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Darrell Law (“Petitioner”), an inmate at the
James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware, filed
a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
He also filed two other civil cases pending before the Court,
both of which were filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Petitioner filed a Motion to Disqualify Judge (D.I. 13) in
the instant case, as well as in the two § 1983 cases.
Petitioner moves for the Court's recusal under 28 U.S.C.
§ 455 and § 144. (D.I. 13) He has submitted an
Affidavit (D.I. 14) to support his Motion to Disqualify Judge
under § 144.
144 provides that “[w]henever 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.” Petitioner submitted a
three-paragraph Affidavit (D.I. 14) in Support of his Motion.
In the Affidavit, Petitioner states that he
“believes” the Court is “intolerant and
uninterested in his judiciary matters because he is
incarcerated” and a “pro se litigant.”
(Id. at 1). Petitioner believes this is so because
he has a total of three civil matters pending before the
Court. (Id.). He states that the Court is
“only interested in matters of litigation involving big
business and corporation.” (Id.).
threshold matter, it is the responsibility of the district
judge against whom an affidavit is filed to assess the legal
sufficiency of the affidavit. See United States v.
Townsend, 478 F.2d 1072, 1073 (3d Cir. 1973) (stating
that the mere filing of an affidavit “does not
automatically disqualify a judge”). The United States
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has held that the
challenged judge must determine only the sufficiency of the
affidavit, not the truth of the assertions. See Mims v.
Shapp, 541 F.2d 415, 417 (3d Cir. 1976). An affidavit is
legally sufficient if the facts alleged therein: (1) are
“material” and “stated with particularity,
” (2) “would convince a reasonable person that a
bias exists, ” and (3) evince bias that “is
personal, as opposed to judicial, in nature.”
United States v. Thompson, 483 F.2d 527, 528 (3d
it is evident that Petitioner's allegations of bias
consist of subjective conclusions and disagreements with this
Court's legal rulings in the other cases wherein
Petitioner is a party and because the Court has not reviewed
his cases as quickly as he would like. See Jones v.
Pittsburgh Nat'l Corp., 899 F.2d 1350, 1356 (3d
Cir.1990) (holding that, to be legally sufficient, an
affidavit must contain more than mere conclusory
allegations). Petitioner filed the Motion to Disqualify Judge
in the instant case after his in forma pauperis status was
revoked in one of his § 1983 cases, Law v.
MaCauley et. al., C.A. 18-1692 (MN), when the Court
discovered that he had “three strikes.” It is
evident that he is unhappy with the ruling. The Third Circuit
has “repeatedly stated that a party's displeasure
with legal rulings does not form an adequate basis for
recusal.” Securacomm Consulting, Inc. v. Securacom,
Inc., 224 F.3d 273, 278 (3d Cir. 2000). Here, Petitioner
has not met the requirements of § 144, and his motion
for recusal under 28 U.S.C. § 144 will be denied.
to 28 U.S.C. § 455(a), a judge is required to recuse
herself “in any proceeding in which [her] impartiality
might reasonably be questioned.” 28 U.S.C. §
455(a). The test for recusal under § 455(a) is whether a
“reasonable person, with knowledge of all the facts,
would conclude that the judge's impartiality might
reasonably be questioned, ” In re Kensington
Int'l Ltd., 368 F.3d 289, 301 (3d Cir. 2004), not
“whether a judge actually harbors bias against a
party.” United States v. Kennedy, 682 F.3d
244, 258 (3d Cir. 2012). Under § 455(b)(1), a judge is
required to recuse herself “[w]here [s]he has a
personal bias or prejudice concerning a party.”
either subsection, the bias necessary to require recusal
generally “must stem from a source outside of the
official proceedings.” Liteky v. United
States, 510 U.S. 540, 554 (1994); Selkridge v.
United of Omaha Life Ins. Co., 360 F.3d 155, 167 (3d
Cir. 2004) (beliefs or opinions which merit recusal must
involve an extrajudicial factor). Hence, “judicial
rulings alone almost never constitute a valid basis for a
bias or partiality motion.” Liteky, 510 U.S.
at 555. Similarly, claims of bias or partiality cannot be
based on “expressions of impatience, dissatisfaction,
annoyance, [or] even anger, that are within the bounds of
what imperfect men and women, even after having been
confirmed as federal judges, sometimes display. A judge's
ordinary efforts at courtroom administration-even a stern and
short-tempered judge's ordinary efforts at courtroom
administration-remain immune.” Id. at 555-56.
it is evident in reading Petitioner's Motion that he
takes exception to this Court's recent rulings in an
entirely different case and that he is displeased because he
believes his cases are not being ruled upon quickly enough. A
reasonable, well-informed observer could not believe that the
rulings were based on impartiality, bias, or actual prejudice
by the undersigned. Nor do the Court's rulings
demonstrate that it acted in any such manner when ruling in
cases wherein Petitioner is a party. Nor has the Court
delayed in ruling on Petitioner's cases for any reason.
Indeed, with respect to the instant case, Petitioner just
filed a Supplemental Memorandum in Support of his Habeas
Petition (D.I. 12) in April 2019.
careful and deliberate consideration, the Court concludes
that it has no actual bias or prejudice towards Petitioner
and that a reasonable, well-informed observer would not
question the Court's impartiality. In light of the
foregoing standard, and after considering Petitioner's
assertions, the Court concludes that there are no grounds for
its recusal under 28 U.S.C. § 455.
above reasons, the Court will deny the Motion to Disqualify
Judge. (D.I. 13) ...