United States District Court, D. Kansas
DAVID L. WOODWARD, Plaintiff,
RICK HODGE, et al., Defendants.
CROW U.S. Senior District Judge
Court dismissed this action upon screening (Docs. 8, 9),
finding that Plaintiff's claims present no exception to
the favorable-termination requirement in Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994), and are therefore
barred under Heck. Plaintiff filed a Motion for
Reconsideration (Doc. 10). Plaintiff's motion for
reconsideration alleged that the Court erred in finding that
Plaintiff's § 1983 action is barred under
Heck. In an Order entered on November 22, 2016 (Doc.
11), the Court addressed Plaintiff's arguments and found
that Plaintiff failed to show the need to correct clear error
or prevent manifest injustice. Plaintiff then filed a Motion
to Void Judgment Pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
60(b)(4) (Doc. 12), asking the Court to void its judgment
dismissing his § 1983 complaint. The Court found that
Plaintiff failed to show that relief under Rule 60(b)(4) was
warranted, and denied the motion in an Order entered on
October 27, 2017. (Doc. 13.) This matter is before the Court
on Plaintiff's Motion to Void Court's Order (Doc.
15). Plaintiff is once again asking the Court to void its
judgment dismissing his § 1983 case. Plaintiff has also
filed a Motion for Recusal of Judge Pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
455(a) (Doc. 16).
Motion for Recusal
motion for recusal alleges that the undersigned is biased and
prejudiced toward prisoners because relief is denied in
nearly all matters brought by them. Plaintiff then sets forth
his disagreements with the undersigned's decision in this
case, citing the same arguments he makes in his motions to
28 U.S.C. § 455(a) and (b)(1) a judge “shall
disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his
impartiality might reasonably be questioned” or if
“he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a
party.” 28 U.S.C. § 455(a) and (b)(1). Section
(b)(1) is subjective and contains the “extrajudicial
source” limitation. See Liteky v. United
States, 510 U.S. 540 (1994). Recusal may be appropriate
“when a judge's decisions, opinions, or remarks
stem from an extrajudicial source-a source outside the
judicial proceedings.” United States v. Nickl,
427 F.3d 1286, 1298 (10th Cir. 2005) (citing Liteky,
510 U.S. at 554-55). Recusal is also necessary when a
judge's actions or comments “reveal such a high
degree of favoritism or antagonism as to make fair judgment
impossible.” Id. (quoting Liteky, 510
U.S. at 555).
455(a) has a broader reach than subsection (b) and the
standard is not subjective, but rather objective. See
Nichols v. Alley, 71 F.3d 347, 350 (10th Cir. 1995)
(citing Liljeberg v. Health Servs. Acquisition
Corp., 486 U.S. 847, 858 n.7 (1988) and Liteky,
510 U.S. at 548). The factual allegations need not be taken
as true, and the test is “whether a reasonable person,
knowing all the relevant facts, would harbor doubts about the
judge's impartiality.” Id. at 350- 51
(quoting United States v. Cooley, 1 F.3d 985, 993
(10th Cir. 1993)); Burleson, 123 F. App'x at
960. A judge has a “‘continuing duty to ask
himself what a reasonable person, knowing all of the relevant
facts, would think about his impartiality.'”
United States v. Greenspan, 26 F.3d 1001, 1005 (10th
Cir. 1994) (quoting United States v. Hines, 696 F.2d
722, 728 (10th Cir. 1982)). “The goal of section 455(a)
is to avoid even the appearance of partiality.”
Liljeberg, 486 U.S. at 860.
initial inquiry-whether a reasonable factual basis exists for
questioning the judge's impartiality-is limited to
outward manifestations and the reasonable inferences to be
drawn from those manifestations. Nichols, 71 F.3d at
351 (citing Cooley, 1 F.3d at 993). “[T]he
judge's actual state of mind, purity or heart,
incorruptibility, or lack of partiality are not the
issue.” Id. (quoting Cooley, 1 F.3d
at 993). “The trial judge must recuse himself when
there is the appearance of bias, regardless of whether there
is actual bias.” Bryce v. Episcopal Church of
Colo., 289 F.3d 648, 659 (10th Cir. 2002) (citing
Nichols, 71 F.3d at 350).
Tenth Circuit has cautioned that “section 455(a) must
not be so broadly construed that it becomes, in effect,
presumptive, so that recusal is mandated upon the merest
unsubstantiated suggestion of personal bias or
prejudice.” Cooley, 1 F.3d at 993 (quoting
Franks v. Nimmo, 796 F.2d 1230, 1234 (10th Cir.
1986)). A judge has “as much obligation . . . not to
recuse when there is no occasion for him to do so as there is
for him to do so when there is.” David v. City
& Cnty. of Denver, 101 F.3d 1344, 1351 (10th Cir.
1996) (quotation omitted); Greenspan, 26 F.3d at
1005 (citation omitted). Judges have a duty to sit when there
is no legitimate reason to recuse. Bryce, 289 F.3d
at 659; Nichols, 71 F.3d at 351. Courts must
exercise caution in considering motions for recusal in order
to discourage their use for judge shopping or delay.
Nichols, 71 F.3d at 351 (noting that § 455(a)
is not “intended to bestow veto power over judges or to
be used as a judge shopping device”); Cooley,
1 F.3d at 993 (noting that Congress was concerned that §
455(a) might be abused as a judge-shopping device).
Supreme Court has explained that “judicial rulings
alone almost never constitute a valid basis for a bias or
partiality motion.” Liteky, 510 U.S. at 555.
When no extrajudicial source is relied upon as a ground for
recusal, “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.
Court finds that no reasonable person would believe that the
undersigned's previous rulings implicate the level of
“deep-seated favoritism or antagonism” that would
make recusal proper. Knowing all of the relevant facts, no
reasonable person could harbor doubts about the
undersigned's impartiality. Because the undersigned has a
duty to sit and hear this case where there is no legitimate
reason for recusal, Plaintiff's request for recusal is
Motion to Void Court's Order
seeks relief from the Court's judgment under Rules
60(b)(4) and (6), which provide that the Court may relieve a
party from a final judgment if the judgment is void or for
“any other reason that justifies relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(4) and (6). This Court's previous
Order at Doc. 13 set forth the reasons why Plaintiff has not
shown that relief under Rule 60(b)(4) is warranted. The Court
adopts the reasoning set forth in that Order. See
Doc. 13, at 2-3.
request to void the Court's Order under Rule 60(b)(6) is
also denied. Plaintiff argues that the Court should nullify
its judgment of dismissal, because the Court was
“legislating from the bench” by following the
decision in Heck. Plaintiff argues that the Court
should have strictly read the language of § 1983 without
relying on Heck. Plaintiff also argues that the
decision in Heck is unconstitutional and
inconsistent with due process.
is a United States Supreme Court decision. See Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). This Court is bound by
Supreme Court decisions. See United States v.
Titties, 852 F.3d 1257, 1269 (10th Cir. 2017)
(explaining that the Tenth Circuit is not bound by past panel
decisions “when the Supreme Court issues an intervening
decision that is contrary to or invalidates” the Tenth
Circuit's previous analysis) (citation omitted);
United States v. Cox, 235 F.Supp.3d 1221, 1223 (D.
Kan. 2017). (stating that this court is bound to follow
decisions from the Supreme Court or the Tenth ...