United States District Court, D. Colorado
ANDREW J. O'CONNOR, and CLIFF SMEDLEY, Plaintiffs,
LAFAYETTE CITY COUNCIL, and ALEXANDRA LYNCH, Mayor, Defendants.
Kristen L. Mix United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion
to Disqualify Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix Pursuant to 28
§ 455 U.S.C. [sic] [#42] (the
“Motion”). Defendants filed a Response [#45] in
opposition to the Motion [#42], and Plaintiffs filed a Reply
[#46]. I have reviewed the Motion, the Response, the Reply,
and the entire case file and am fully advised in the
premises. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion [#42]
to 28 U.S.C. § 455, Plaintiffs seek my recusal on the
basis of “misandry, lack of impartiality, personal bias
and prejudice against Plaintiffs and in favor of Defendants
and for violations of the Code of Conduct for United States
Judges.” Motion [#42] at 1.
only specific action taken by me to which Plaintiffs point is
a Minute Order [#37] entered on October 21, 2019, in which I
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs'
Second Motion for Sanctions and Response in
Opposition to Defendants' Reply in Support of Their
Motion to Dismiss [ECF 14] Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6) [#28] (the “Motion”).
Plaintiffs appear to be under the impression that they have a
right to present their case in whatever manner they choose.
However, no litigant, represented or pro se, has such a
right. Wojdacz v. Norman, No. 12-cv-01483-REB-MEH,
2014 WL 4980401, at *1 n.3 (D. Colo. Oct. 6, 2014). Every
litigant must conform his presentation of his case to the
various rules and procedures governing proceedings before the
Court. Id. The Court retains authority to manage the
proceedings to promote the swift and efficient resolution of
cases and preserve the dignity of the Court. Id.
“[A] federal courtroom is not a bully pulpit.”
Throughout their Motion [#28], Plaintiffs make a variety of
vile characterizations and wholly baseless insinuations
against various persons, including nonparties and counsel for
Defendants-statements which do not deserve the dignity of
being repeated here. See, e.g., [#28] at 12, 18, 20.
Such unsubstantiated and “wholly fanciful
aspersions” are plainly abusive. See Wojdacz,
2014 WL 4980401, at *1 n.3. Although the Court does not
attempt to dignify Plaintiffs' wild conjecture by
addressing each statement substantively-because each
statement is, in fact, completely unsubstantiated-the Court
warns Plaintiffs that filings that contain abusive material
will be stricken without further consideration. See
Garrett v. Selby Connor Maddux & Janer, 425 F.3d
836, 841 (10th Cir. 2005) (stating that the Court has
inherent authority to strike pleadings from the docket which
contain abusive or offensive language and serve no legitimate
purpose); Phillips v. Carey, 638 F.2d 207, 208 (10th
Cir. 1981) (stating that the Court has the legal authority
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f) to strike pleadings which are
impertinent or scandalous in nature). Plaintiffs must limit
the contents of their filings to information and argument
which is intended to lead to the ultimate resolution of their
claims before the Court. Accordingly,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Motion [#28]
remainder of Plaintiffs' suggested grounds for recusal
are unconnected to any of my own actions in this case: (1)
Plaintiffs' filing of a judicial misconduct complaint
against me; (2) my practice as an employment lawyer prior to
taking the bench; and (3) a 2016 award for judicial
excellence presented to me by the Colorado Women's Bar
Association. Motion [#42]; Reply [#46].
to 28 U.S.C. § 455(a), a Magistrate Judge shall
disqualify herself “in any proceeding in which [her]
impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” Further,
she “shall also disqualify [her]self . . . [w]here
[s]he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party . .
. .” 28 U.S.C. § 455(b)(1). In the Tenth Circuit,
courts use a “reasonable person” standard in
applying the statute. See, e.g., Hinman v.
Rogers, 831 F.2d 937, 939 (10th Cir. 1987); see also
United States v. Cooley, 1 F.3d 985, 993 (10th Cir.
1993) (“The standard is purely objective. The inquiry
is limited to outward manifestations and reasonable
inferences drawn therefrom. In applying the test, the initial
inquiry is whether a reasonable factual basis exists
to call the judge's impartiality into question.”).
purpose of the statute is not to provide litigants with
“a veto power over sitting judges, or a vehicle for
obtaining a judge of their choice.” Cooley, 1
F.3d at 993. Moreover, “a judge has a strong duty to
sit when there is no legitimate reason to recuse.”
Bryce v. Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Colo.,
289 F.3d 648, 659 (10th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted).
“‘[U]nsubstantiated suggestions, speculations
[and] opinions' are insufficient to establish even the
appearance of any bias, prejudice, or misconduct that would
warrant judicial recusal.” Carpenter v. Boeing
Co., 456 F.3d 1183, 1204 (10th Cir. 2006) (citation
omitted); see also Estate of Bishop v. Equinox Int'l
Corp., 256 F.3d 1050, 1058 (10th Cir. 2001)
(“Factors that do not merit disqualification
include: rumor, speculation, beliefs, conclusions, or other
non-factual matters . . . [and] prior rulings that were
adverse to the moving party.” (emphasis in original)).
Plaintiffs' dissatisfaction with me is manifest, there is
no basis for concluding that my impartiality in this matter
might reasonably be questioned. Indeed, the Tenth Circuit has
made clear that although recusal motions are frequently based
upon speculation or beliefs, prior adverse rulings in the
proceeding, and/or baseless personal attacks on the judge by
a party, none of these circumstances warrants recusal.
Nichols v. Alley, 71 F.3d 347, 351 (10th Cir. 1995);
see also Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 555
(1994) (“Judicial rulings alone almost never constitute
a valid basis for a bias or partiality motion. . . .
[Further], judicial remarks during ...