United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. Reeves, United States District Judge
March 6, 2018, the Court granted partial summary judgment in
favor of Defendants Mayme Brunacini and La Mame Kentucky,
LLC. On the same date, the Court denied pro se
Plaintiff James Lattanzio's motion seeking to void a
judgment of the Scott Circuit Court. [Record Nos. 98 and 99]
In part, Lattanzio's motion to void the state court's
judgment was based on his claim that the circuit judge
ignored his arguments in ruling against him. Likewise, the
circuit judge allegedly declined to recuse when Lattanzio
asked for that relief following adverse rulings. [Record No.
83] But as this Court explained in denying Lattanzio's
attempt to set aside the state court's prior
under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, this Court does
not have subject matter jurisdiction to grant the requested
relief. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine holds that
federal district courts should not sit in direct review of
state court decisions and orders. . . . While Latttanzio may
seek review of such determinations from the United States
Supreme Court, he cannot use this Court as a third-level of
appellate review for adverse state court determinations.
[Record No. 99] Lattanzio sought reconsideration of this
ruling, but that request was denied. [Record Nos. 102 and
now moves the undersigned to recuse from further
participation in this matter under 28 U.S.C. § 455(a)
and to stay the proceedings while he seeks appellate review.
[Record No. 110] More specifically, based on prior rulings of
this Court which have been adverse to Lattanzio, the
plaintiff argues that the undersigned has “willfully
chosen to knowingly ignore his oath of office, the law and a
partiality deftness towards [the] pro se plaintiff in the
matter before him.” [Id.] Because
Lattanzio's arguments are totally without merit, his
motions will be denied.
disqualification is required under 28 U.S.C. § 455(a)
“in any proceeding in which [the Court's]
impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” Section
455(b)(1) further requires disqualification “[w]here
[the judge] has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a
party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts
concerning the proceeding.” “A district court
judge must recuse himself where a reasonable person with
knowledge of the all facts would conclude that the
judge's impartiality might reasonably be
questioned.” United States v. Dandy, 998 F.2d
1344, 1349 (6th Cir. 1993) (quotation marks omitted). This is
an objective standard. Id. As explained in
Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540 (1994):
First, judicial rulings alone almost never constitute a valid
basis for a bias or partiality motion . . . In and of
themselves (i.e., apart from surrounding comments or
accompanying opinion), they cannot possibly show reliance
upon an extrajudicial source; and can only in the rarest
circumstances evidence the degree of favoritism or antagonism
required . . . when no extrajudicial source is involved.
Almost invariably, they are proper grounds for appeal, not
for recusal. Second, 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.
Id. at 555.
Sixth Circuit has adopted the Liteky standard in
judicial disqualification cases. See, e.g.,
Lyell v. Renico, 470 F.3d 1177, 1186-87 (6th Cir.
2006). The undersigned is also mindful that the Sixth Circuit
has cautioned that “[t]here is as much obligation upon
a judge not to recuse himself when there is no occasion as
there is for him to do so when there is.” Easley v.
Univ. of Mich. Bd. of Regents, 853 F.2d 1351, 1356 (6th
Cir. 1988) (alteration in original) (citation omitted). In
short, unnecessary recusals waste judicial resources.
City of Cleveland v. Krupansky, 619 F.2d 576 (6th
Cir. 1980). Likewise, granting groundless disqualification
motions also encourages judge-shopping.
arguments that the Court does not “hear” the
plaintiff and “sidesteps any negative motion issues
brought before [it] by [the] plaintiff” are baseless
and clearly stem from his dissatisfaction with the
Court's previous rulings. He has neither alleged nor
offered any evidence of partiality or of a conflict of
interest that would reasonable draw into question the ability
of the undersigned to preside over this matter. 28 U.S.C.
§ 455(a); United States v. Tolbert, 459
Fed.Appx. 541, 545 (6th Cir. 2012). Likewise, Lattanzio has
failed to property raise an issue of judicial bias that would
reasonably draw into question the Court's impartiality.
His assertions to the contrary are misplaced, and only seem
to reflect his personal dissatisfaction with how the
litigation is unfolding.
the Court will not stay this proceedings because Lattanzio
wishes to seek appellate review. Lattanzio has not cited any
authority to support his motion to stay. And for good reason
since the authority on this point is to the contrary. As the
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit noted
just last month, where the district court has not entered a
final appealable order terminating all of the issues
presented in the litigation, “an order denying recusal
is not immediately appealable under the collateral order
doctrine.” Mischler v. Bevins, 2018 WL 3220480
(6th. Cir. March 16, 2018). This case does not present facts
which fall within the narrow exception to this general rule.
Thus, the plaintiff cannot use a baseless attempt to remove
the undersigned and stay the matter as a tool to prolong this
already protracted litigation. Accordingly, it is hereby
that the plaintiff's motion to disqualify and stay
[Record No. 110] is DENIED.