United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
IN RE RONALD J. SMITH, Appellant
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER [RESOLVING ECF NO.
Y. Pearson United States District Judge.
is Appellant Ronald J. Smith's motion for recusal.
ECF No. 3. Appellee has not responded and the time
to do so has passed. For the reasons explained below, the
motion is denied.
has appealed decisions of the Bankruptcy Court for the
Northern District of Ohio. ECF No. 1. Appellant's
motion for recusal relies primarily on a prior litigation
between the same parties now before the undersigned that was
dismissed in 2018. ECF No. 3. For context, the Court
discusses that prior case below.
2017, Appellant, as plaintiff, filed an action against
Appellee, as a defendant, for allegedly violating the Fair
Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collections Practices
Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act. ECF No. 39 at
PageID #: 365. Appellee filed a motion to dismiss and the
Court granted the motion. Id. at PageID #: 364.
Among other reasons, the Court found that Appellant had no
standing because he failed to demonstrate a cognizable
injury. Id. at PageID #: 374-78.
Appellant filed a motion to reconsider which was denied. ECF
No. 44. Appellant appealed and the Sixth Circuit affirmed the
dismissal. ECF No. 49.
Standard of Review
conduct of federal judicial officers is governed by Code of
Conduct for United States Judges. See Code of Judicial
Conduct for United States Judges. The advice imparted is
organized in Canons. Canons are rules of reason. They should
be applied consistently with constitutional requirements,
statutes, other court rules and decisional law, and in the
context of all relevant circumstances. The Code is to be
construed so it does not impinge on the essential
independence of judges in making judicial decisions.
2A instructs that a judge should avoid impropriety and the
appearance of impropriety in all activities. Id.
“An appearance of impropriety occurs when reasonable
minds, with knowledge of all the relevant circumstances
disclosed by a reasonable inquiry, would conclude that the
judge's honesty, integrity, impartiality, temperament, or
fitness to serve as a judge is impaired.” Id.,
Commentary 2A. Canon 2B cautions that a judicial officer
should not allow relationships, including, family, social,
political, financial, or other relationships to influence
judicial conduct or judgment.
directs that a judge should perform the duties of the office
fairly, impartially and diligently. It further instructs that
a judge shall disqualify herself in a proceeding in which the
judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
Id., Canon 3(C)(1). That same canon mandates that
“[a] judge should hear and decide matters assigned,
unless disqualified.” Id., Canon 3(A)(2).
decision of whether to recuse lies within the discretion of
the judicial officer. United States v. Wilensky, 757
F.2d 594, 599600 (3d Cir. 1985). There are two federal
statutes that dictate the circumstances under which a federal
judge should recuse. Appellant relies primarily on only
Section 455(a) of Title 28 of the United States Code provides
in pertinent part that “[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.” 28 U.S.C. § 455(a).
Recusal is only required when “the probability of
actual bias on the part of the judge or decisionmakers is too
high to be constitutionally tolerable.” Rippo v.
Baker, 137 S.Ct. 905, 907 (2017) (quoting Withrow v.
Larkin, 421 U.S. 35, 47 (2016)).
reviewing motions for recusal, the Sixth Circuit has held
that § 455(a) requires recusal “if a
reasonable, objective person, knowing all of the
circumstances, would have questioned the judge's
impartiality.” Hughes v. United States, 899
F.2d 1495, 1501 (6th Cir. 1990); see also Liljeberg v.
Health Servs. Acquisition Corp., 486 U.S. 847, 861-63
(1988); Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 548
(1994). However, “a federal judge has a duty to sit
where not disqualified which is equally as strong as the duty
to not sit where disqualified.” Laird v.
Tatum, 409 U.S. 824, 837 (1972).
standard for recusal is whether, under the circumstances of
this case, a reasonable, objective person knowing all the
circumstances would have questioned the Court's
impartiality. See Easley v. Univ. ...