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Andwan v. Village of Greenhills

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

March 15, 2017


          Barrett, J. Bowman, M.J.



          I. Introduction

         More than three and a half years ago, Plaintiff Patricia Andwan, through experienced counsel, paid the requisite filing fee and initiated this civil rights suit.[1]Counsel subsequently withdrew, and with the notable exception of representation by a second attorney for a four-month period in 2015, Plaintiff has prosecuted her claims pro se since then. Pursuant to local practice, all pending motions have been referred to the undersigned magistrate judge.

         Currently pending before the undersigned is a motion labeled as a “pro se motion to disqualify Magistrate Judge Step[h]anie K. Bowman and assign another magistrate to assist Judge Barrett and Motion for an in-person hearing to discuss and assign substitute attorney to assist pro se Plaintiff.” (Doc. 196). The motion is properly construed as a motion seeking the recusal of the undersigned magistrate judge. Because there exists no basis for recusal, Plaintiff's motion will be denied, as will related motions contained in the same document.

         In addition to Plaintiff's motion, Defendants have moved to defer expert depositions pending the resolution of dispositive motions. That motion also will be denied.

         II. Background

         This Court (comprised of the undersigned magistrate judge and the presiding district judge)[2] has denied several motions filed by Plaintiff in which she has sought either the appointment of counsel or “co-counsel, ” or has sought reconsideration of the same request. (Docs. 183, 186, 187, 190, 194; see also generally Doc. 59 at 4, Doc. 93, Doc.127). Plaintiff repeatedly has made clear her displeasure with these and other unfavorable rulings. Plaintiff's accusations of bias and expressions of displeasure with the Court's rulings have elicited warnings from the Court that

her baseless accusations and flagrant misstatements of fact regarding this Court, its judicial officers and employees, must stop. If she continues with this course of conduct, she will be subject to the imposition of sanctions, which may include the dismissal of her lawsuit. This admonition fully applies to Plaintiff's equally baseless accusations against the Magistrate Judge, whom Plaintiff complains was “politically hired” and is biased against her.

         (Doc. 93 at 4; see also Doc. 156, reiterating warning to Plaintiff that her pro se status does not excuse her compliance with all rules and orders). The Court has cautioned Plaintiff not only about her unfounded accusations of bias but also about her tendency to file the same or similar motions, presenting arguments previously rejected by this Court. (See, e.g. Docs. 157, 161, 162, 170; see also Doc. 175 at 5-6, advising Plaintiff that “vexatious, abusive and disrespectful conduct will no longer be tolerated and that continued conduct of this nature will result in sanctions” and setting forth specific steps based upon the fact that “Ms. Andwan has been warned directly on many occasions…[but] has not heeded these prior warnings.”; Doc. 194 at 17-18, noting that the Court “has been extremely lenient and liberal with Plaintiff despite her continued disrespectful conduct…and despite her continual filing of ‘new and improved' versions of repetitive arguments and motions.”).

         At the same time, the undersigned has done her best to provide a thorough explanation of the Court's rulings, with Plaintiff's pro se status in mind.[3] Most recently, this came in the form of an 18-page Memorandum Opinion and Order filed on January 18, 2017, which set forth the course of this litigation in painstaking detail, before denying Plaintiff's renewed “motion for reconsideration”” of the Court's prior denials of Plaintiff's requests for the appointment of counsel or co-counsel, and/or additional stays of this litigation. (See Doc. 194, denying motion seeking reconsideration of Docs 180, 185, 186, 189, 190). Suffice it to say that this Court's attempts to provide a thorough explanation to Plaintiff have not been to Plaintiff's satisfaction. The undersigned can do no more.

         Plaintiff now seeks recusal based in part on Plaintiff's belief that the January 2017 Memorandum Opinion and Order, was “hostile, threatening and intimidating.” The undersigned's last Order provides no more grounds for recusal than does any other prior Order of this Court.

         In her motion, Plaintiff recites the same arguments that previously have been considered multiple times by this Court concerning allegations of judicial bias, her asserted entitlement to the appointment of counsel, complaints with prior counsel's representation, arguments concerning the inadequacies of the Court's prior rulings, and complaints about the Defendants' conduct, including but not limited to conduct in discovery. Admitting that she has filed “repeated Motions, ” Plaintiff gives no sign of understanding the Court's prior admonitions, insisting that she has “no alternative but to speak the Truth …and stay persistent.” (Doc. 195 at 5). In addition to seeking the assignment of a new magistrate judge, Plaintiff again seeks the appointment of counsel, as well as another “in-person hearing to work out arrangements regarding providing Plaintiff with legal counsel.” (Id.) She also seeks reversal of multiple prior rulings. Plaintiff admits that she conducted no fact depositions prior to the close of discovery due to her “lack of knowledge and experience, ” (id.), and therefore also seeks another extension of time to complete discovery, through at least May 10, 2017.

         II. ...

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