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Loggins v. Pilshaw

United States District Court, D. Kansas

January 15, 2020

KEVIN D. LOGGINS, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
REBECCA L. PILSHAW, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Daniel D. Crabtree, United States District Judge.

         Pro se plaintiff[1] Kevin D. Loggins, Sr., brings an Amended Complaint (Doc. 27) and the following motions before the court: Motion to Recuse Judge Daniel Crabtree and to Remove Cases from Topeka Division for Lack of Impartiality & Inability to Receive a Fair Hearing (Doc. 26); Motion for Status of Plaintiff's Motion to Recuse Judge Daniel Crabtree (Doc. 33); Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 35); Motion Seeking Adjudication of Plaintiff's Motion to Recuse Judge Daniel Crabtree (Doc. 38); Motion Seeking Default Judgment (Doc. 39); and Motion Seeking Status of Plaintiff's Motion to Recuse Judge Daniel Crabtree (Doc. 41).

         First, the court denies plaintiff's Motion to Recuse (Doc. 26) for reasons explained below. Second, the court concludes that plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 27) fails to address the deficiencies the court identified in his first Complaint (Doc. 1). The court thus dismisses the case for failure to state a claim. The court denies the remainder of plaintiff's motions as moot (Docs. 33, 35, 38, 39, & 41).

         I. Procedural History

         On September 25, 2018, plaintiff-a prisoner at Hutchinson Correctional Facility-filed a Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He sued 38 defendants.[2] Doc. 1. Plaintiff also brought seven motions as part of his § 1983 claim, including a Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint (Doc. 18). Plaintiff sought leave to amend his Complaint so that he could “add an additional count for conduct of Judge James Fleetwood, and request punitive damages.” Doc. 18 at 1.

         The court screened plaintiff's complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). See generally Doc. 20. This statute requires the court to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or an employee of a governmental entity. The court must dismiss any complaint (or any portion of a complaint) if it presents claims that are legally frivolous or malicious; that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)-(2). Plaintiff's Complaint did not survive screening. Doc. 20 at 16-17. The court identified the deficiencies in plaintiff's Complaint but granted him leave to file a complete and proper amended complaint. Id. at 17.

         On April 30, 2019, plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. 27). He also has filed the following motions: Motion to Recuse Judge Daniel Crabtree (Doc. 26); Motion for Status of Plaintiff's Motion to Recuse Judge Daniel Crabtree (Doc. 33); Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 35); Motion Seeking Adjudication of Plaintiff's Motion to Recuse Judge Daniel Crabtree (Doc. 38); Motion Seeking Default Judgment (Doc. 39); and Motion Seeking Status of Plaintiff's Motion to Recuse Judge Daniel Crabtree (Doc. 41).

         II. Recusal Motion

         Plaintiff seeks to remove the judicial officer assigned to this case. He argues that the assigned judge has shown a “lack of neutrality and impartiality.” Doc. 26 at 13. He asserts that the court's “claims of defi[ci]encies in plaintiff[']s [C]omplaint are refuted by the record. In fact Judge Daniel Crabtree argues affirmative defenses for the [ ] defendants who[ ] have yet to respond to the [C]omplaint . . . .” Id. at 2. Essentially, plaintiff seeks recusal because the court's March 27, 2019 Order granting plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint identified deficiencies in plaintiff's Complaint. The Order explained those deficiencies and directed plaintiff to address them if he filed an Amended Complaint.

         Two statutes govern judicial recusal, 28 U.S.C. §§ 144 and 455. Burleson v. Sprint PCS Group, 123 Fed.Appx. 957, 959 (10th Cir. 2005). For recusal under § 144, the moving party must submit an affidavit showing bias and prejudice. Id. (citing Glass v. Pfeffer, 849 F.2d 1261, 1267 (10th Cir. 1988)). The bias and prejudice must be personal, extrajudicial, and identified by “facts of time, place, persons, occasions, and circumstances.” Id. at 960 (quoting Hinman v. Rogers, 831 F.2d 937, 939 (10th Cir. 1987)). These facts will be accepted as true, but they must be more than conclusions, rumors, beliefs, and opinions. Id. Without an affidavit showing bias or prejudice and proper identification of events manifesting a personal and extrajudicial bias, plaintiff cannot support a request for recusal under 28 U.S.C. § 144.

         Alternatively, under 28 U.S.C. § 455, a judge must disqualify himself “in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned, ” or “[w]here he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 455(a) & (b)(1). The test for determining impartiality is an objective one, based on a judge's “outward manifestations and reasonable inferences drawn therefrom.” Nichols v. Alley, 71 F.3d 347, 351 (10th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted).

         Plaintiff here alleges no facts suggesting personal bias or prejudice. Plaintiff appears to interpret the court's March 27, 2019 Order as adverse to him because it identified deficiencies in his Complaint. But adverse rulings do not provide a reason for recusal. See Green v. Branson, 108 F.3d 1296, 1305 (10th Cir. 1997) (stating that “adverse rulings ‘cannot in themselves form the appropriate grounds for disqualification'” (quoting Green v. Dorrell, 969 F.2d 915, 919 (10th Cir. 1992))). In sum, plaintiff has failed to establish any grounds to remove the assigned judge from this case. The court thus denies plaintiff's Motion to Recuse (Doc. 26). Also, the court denies as moot plaintiff's motions seeking a status update on his recusal motion (Docs. 33, 38, & 41).

         III. Plaintiff's Complaints

         Generally, plaintiff brings this § 1983 action alleging that he is incarcerated wrongfully because of errors committed in his underlying criminal proceeding. First, the court recites the legal standard that applies to pro se prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer. The court then notes the deficiencies it already has identified in plaintiff's Complaint. Finally, the court analyzes ...


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