UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
October 5, 2007
ROBERT ALFANO, PLAINTIFF,
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: James Orenstein, Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff Robert Alfano filed the instant lawsuit against various defendants seeking damages he claims to have sustained as a result of their roles in disseminating a photograph depicting him in the company of the late John Gotti ("Gotti"), the erstwhile boss of an organized crime family. Alfano filed the case in state court, and the defendants thereafter removed the action to this court on July 17, 2006. Docket Entry ("DE") 1. I was randomly assigned to the case upon its removal, and held my first conference with the parties on December 13, 2006. In the months that followed, I held a number of conferences and made a number of rulings, some of which favored the plaintiff, and more of which favored the defendants. After more than eight months of litigation before me, and in response to the latest ruling against him, Alfano first raised an objection to my participation in the case on the basis of the fact that during my career as a federal prosecutor, I was a member of a team of attorneys who prosecuted Gotti. See DE 63 at 12-13 (memorandum of law in support of objections to discovery rulings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a)). Alfano now asks me to disqualify myself from the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 455. DE 73 (Notice of Motion). For the reasons set forth below, I deny the motion.
A. Alfano's Attenuated Connection To Gotti
Alfano alleges that defendants NGHT, Inc., NGC Network U.S., LLC (together, the "NG defendants"), and Corbis Corporation misappropriated his image and likeness in violation of section 51 of New York's Civil Rights law. DE 15 ("Complaint"). His complaint is predicated on the use defendants' dissemination of a photograph that shows him in the company of Gotti (who was convicted of racketeering, murder and other charges related to his role as boss of the Gambino Organized Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra, see generally United States v. Locascio, 6 F.3d 924 (2d Cir. 1993)), in the course of the NG defendants' efforts to promote a television mini-series entitled "Inside the Mafia." See Complaint ¶¶ 19-27. The photograph depicts Gotti in the foreground, wearing a jacket and tie, and a similarly dressed Alfano slightly behind him and to one side with his left hand holding Gotti's right arm by the elbow. See DE 32-2 at 93, 94 (copies of photograph).
Alfano's explanation for how he and Gotti happened to come together to be photographed, despite having only a limited relationship, is set forth in his answers to some of the defendants' interrogatories in this case. As far as I know, that explanation is not in dispute, and I reprint it in full below:
2. Please describe in detail any relationship (personal, professional, or otherwise) you have had with John Gotti:
RESPONSE: Plaintiff Alfano had an indirect relationship consisting of attending one wedding for a mutual friend in late 1987 or 1988 and two (2) funerals over a twenty year span. Alfano would attend the public fireworks in July, on occasion, at his club located at 101st Ave. in Queens, New York, along with approximately 2000 people from the area. Other than these events, Plaintiff had no relationship with John Gotti.
3. Please identify the time, date, place and location where the Photograph was taken:
RESPONSE: The Photograph was taken at the Court House during the trial, at the Southern District Court House in Manhattan in 1991.*fn1 Mr. Alfano was in attendance with a friend, Joe Tacopina, who was clerking for one of the co-defendant's lawyers, Bruce Cutler, Esq. Plaintiff's family knew one of the co-defendants, Anthony Guerrieri, because Plaintiff dated his (Guerrieri's) cousin when he was 20yrs. [sic] old and kept a close relationship thereafter. By coincidence in 1991, John Gotti grabbed Plaintiff Alfano's arm [sic] as they were walking out, as a group.
4. Please ... describe in detail the circumstances under which you came to be photographed next to John Gotti:
RESPONSE: Plaintiff was merely a spectator walking with friends, as described above. There was a media horde outside. Plaintiff Alfano was walking with the group of lawyers and he was caught up in a crowd of people. John Gotti held Alfano's arm [sic] for less than 10 seconds, to brace himself from the throng.
DE 32-2 at 97-98 (Affirmation of [NG defendants' counsel] Russell A. Gaudreau in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for a Protective Order Ex. F at 2-3).
B. The Facts Relevant To The Instant Motion
Alfano's motion for recusal is predicated on two facts arising from my work as an Assistant United States Attorney in this district, a position that I held from late February 1990 (after the conclusion of Gotti's state court trial in Manhattan) until late June 2001, with one brief interruption while assigned to a different component of the Justice Department. Alfano relies first on the fact that I was a member of the prosecution team in United States v. John Gotti, et al., 90-CR-1051 (ILG) (E.D.N.Y.). See DE 73, Memorandum of Law ("Memo.") at 2 ("the Magistrate Judge did not disclose his direct participation in the prosecution of Gotti (during the 1990's when the photograph at issue was originally taken)"). Second, Alfano asserts that I did not disclose my "recent attendance at a reunion of the Gotti prosecutors and others at the Keens Steakhouse on or about March 31, 2007 until [Alfano's] attorney asked [me] directly in open court." DE 73, Plaintiff's Affidavit in Support of Motion to Recuse Magistrate Judge ("Alfano Aff.") ¶ 14. In a reply affidavit by his counsel, Alfano adds a third basis for my disqualification: a reference to Gotti during the course of certain testimony I provided at a hearing before Congress. See DE 79 (Affidavit of H. Todd Bullard) ("Bullard Aff.") ¶¶ 16-17.
Before Alfano filed the instant motion, his attorney raised the matter at a conference before me on September 6, 2007. See DE 76 (Transcript of Pretrial Conference) ("Tr.") 13 ("Your Honor, from our side the only question that we had would be the Judge's impartiality. We're not sure if the Judge was involved in the earlier Gotti prosecutions.").*fn2 When counsel described the factual bases of his anticipated motion, I provided him with certain additional information that he might find relevant. First, with respect to my work in prosecuting Gotti -- and more importantly, the implicit suggestion that I performed such work "when the photograph at issue was originally taken," Memo. at 2, I pointed out that the "trial where the photograph was taken was a state trial that I had nothing to do with." Tr. 18. Alfano's counsel acknowledged that fact, see Tr. 19, but nevertheless elides it in presenting his motion.*fn3
Second, with respect to the social gathering that Alfano now describes as "a reunion of the Gotti prosecutors," Alfano Aff. ¶ 14, I answered counsel's question about the nature of the event as follows:
And as for a dinner, there was a private celebration among people involved in that case and involved in many other cases but who all worked together and it had nothing to do with the Gotti case as such.
It was a reunion of prosecutors who had worked in my office and had worked together for a period of years. So to the extent [your motion] would be based on that, a fully informed observer would know that it was not about the Gotti case or a celebration on [sic] the Gotti case.
Tr. 27. Alfano's counsel responded to that information by citing a report on an Internet web site that "says it was actually the Gotti team" at the dinner. Tr. 27. That prompted the following exchange: THE COURT: Look, you -- if you want to -- you said you wanted information from me so that you could make an accurate representation. If you're interested in the facts, I told you that. If you're interested in inaccurate reports, rely on those. But I can only tell you what I know and what is in fact the case. If you choose to ignore it, by all means go ahead and make your motion.
MR. BULLARD [Alfano's counsel]: Again, Your Honor, I'm not choosing to ignore anything.
True to his word, Alfano's counsel has not misrepresented the nature of the dinner in arguing that I should be disqualified. Alfano himself, however -- who was himself present, see Tr. 2, and therefore heard the answer that his counsel pledged not to ignore -- nevertheless persists in mischaracterizing the event in his sworn statement. See Alfano Aff. ¶ 14; Memo. at 2 (citing Alfano Aff. for "[a]additional facts" regarding counsel's argument that "a question about the Magistrate's impartiality can reasonably be raised based on the totality of the circumstances"). For purposes of the instant motion, however, I will accept Alfano's knowingly distorted description and assume that I attended "a reunion of the Gotti prosecutors" at the time and place he describes.
A third area that Alfano's counsel mentioned as a possible basis for my disqualification at the conference on September 6, 2007, was the fact that, prior to my appointment as a magistrate judge, I provided testimony to Congress. Counsel raised the issue by noting that "when we did do the research, you voluntarily testified ... before Congress with respect to the Gotti prosecutions[.]" Tr. 20. I immediately corrected counsel and informed him that "I have testified before Congress, but not about the Gotti prosecution." Tr. 20. Alfano's counsel, who "did do the research," then amended his factual assertion by informing me that I had testified "about organized crime in general[.]" Tr. 20. Later in the conference, I provided further information about the testimony: "I have testified four times in front of Congress with respect to a proposed constitutional amendment to add victims rights to the United States Constitution. That was the subject matter of the testimony." Tr. 28.*fn5
Alfano did not mention the matter of my Congressional testimony in his initial motion papers, but did discuss it in his reply. As Alfano presents the matter, my testimony included the following, which I render precisely as Alfano's counsel has in his affidavit:
16. Additional extra-judicial conduct that causes Magistrate Judge Orenstein's impartiality to be questioned involves the Court's testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary in April 2003, in which he discusses, inter alia, "crime victims who are more sympathetic to the criminals than to the government...to illustrate that perverse kind of alliance...that their agenda was to help Gotti was demonstrated by the fact that when Gravano impleaded Gotti into the lawsuit, the problem disappeared." See Exhibit "C," at p. 4, par. 2 (emphasis supplied).
17. The assigned Magistrate Judge appears to view those who "help Gotti" as individuals who are involved in a "perverse kind of alliance" that furthers criminal or "mob" activity.
Bullard Aff. ¶¶ 16-17 (ellipses in original).
In addition to erroneously describing the testimony as being "the Court's" -- I was an attorney in private practice at the time I testified -- counsel's rendering of the quotation (which falsely signals that all of the quoted words are drawn from the same sentence) completely distorts its context and import. Unfortunately, to provide such context and make the import clear, I must provide a rather longer unedited passage from which Alfano's counsel has drawn the quotation -- not all of which Alfano's counsel has included in the exhibit to his affidavit:
It is important to emphasize that the potential risks to effective law enforcement are not the result of giving legal rights to victims and placing corresponding responsibilities on prosecutors, judges, and other governmental actors. The changes brought about by improved legislation in this area over the past twenty years have demonstrated that the criminal justice system can provide better notice, participation, protection and relief to crime victims without in any way jeopardizing the prosecution of offenders. To the contrary, I strongly believe that prosecution efforts are generally more effective if crime victims are regularly consulted during the course of a case, kept informed of developments, and given an opportunity to be heard. There are of course occasions when such participation can harm law enforcement efforts, but my experience has been that most crime victims are more than willing to accommodate such needs if their participation is the norm rather than an afterthought. In most cases, crime victims and prosecutors are natural allies: both want to secure the offender's punishment, and both are better able to work toward that result if the prosecutor keeps the victim notified and involved. But there are a number of cases -- typically arising in the organized crime context and in prison settings -- where the victim of one crime is also the offender in another, and the kind of participatory rights that this Amendment mandates would harm law enforcement efforts.
When a mob soldier decides to cooperate with the government, he typically pleads guilty as part of his agreement, and in some cases then goes back to his criminal colleagues to collect information for the government. If his disclosure is revealed, he is obviously placed in great personal danger, and the government's efforts to fight organized crime are compromised. Under this Amendment, such disclosures could easily come from crime victims who are more sympathetic to the criminals than the government. To illustrate that perverse kind of alliance: When I was working on the case against mob boss John Gotti, ten weeks before the start of trial, Gotti's underboss, Salvatore Gravano, decided to cooperate and testify -- but for weeks after he decided to do so he was still in a detention facility with Gotti and other criminals and at grave risk if his cooperation became known. Luckily, that did not happen. But there were clearly victims of Gravano's crimes who would have notified Gotti if they could have done so. Gravano had, at Gotti's direction, killed a number of other members of the Gambino Family. Shortly after Gravano's cooperation became known, some of the murdered gangsters' family members filed a civil lawsuit for damages against Gravano -- but not Gotti -- and sought to use the civil discovery procedures to collect impeaching information about Gravano before the start of Gotti's trial. That their agenda was to help Gotti was demonstrated by the fact that when Gravano impleaded Gotti into the lawsuit, the problem disappeared.
Some argue that this problem of victim notification of cooperation agreements in organized crime cases is cured by the fact that the cooperating defendant's plea normally takes place in a non-public proceeding. While this may be true in a small number of cases, it is generally an unreliable solution. First, the standard for closing a public proceeding is exceptionally high, see 28 C.F.R. § 50.9, and as a result cooperators' guilty pleas are rarely taken in proceedings that are formally closed to the public. Instead, it is usually necessary to take such a plea in open court and protect the need for secrecy by scheduling it at a time when bystanders are unlikely to be present and by not giving advance public notice of the plea. Such pragmatic problem- solving would not work under the proposed Amendment, because victims allied with the targets of the investigation would be entitled to notice. Second, the Amendment's guarantee of the right to an adjudicative decision that considers the victim's safety might make courts reluctant to release a cooperating defendant to gather information without hearing from victims at the bail proceeding. 2002 WL 973663 (May 9, 2002).*fn6
Thus, to the extent that Alfano infers from my testimony that I considered anyone who ever provided any form of assistance to Gotti as having a perverse alliance with criminals -- including Alfano, who says his sole interaction with Gotti is that he once opened a car door for him while finding himself fortuitously at Gotti's side in the middle of a crowd -- he has simply misread my testimony. As the context makes plain, the concern I expressed to Congress was that prematurely notifying criminals (or those who share their objectives) of the decision by one of their number to cooperate with law enforcement can jeopardize lives and compromise the interests of law enforcement.
In sum, Alfano relies on several assertions of fact, each of which is presented in a way that distorts the truth. Nevertheless, for purposes of addressing the merits of his motion, I will assume that a fully-informed observer would know (or at least believe) the following: (1) I was one of several attorneys who prosecuted Gotti in a federal case that was filed in December 1990;*fn7 (2) the Gotti case on which I worked as a federal prosecutor did not begin until more than ten months after the photograph of Alfano with Gotti was taken outside the site of Gotti's trial on unrelated charges in a state court; (3) I celebrated Gotti's conviction at a dinner in March 2007; (4) I gave testimony about Gotti's federal case at various Congressional hearings prior to my appointment as a magistrate judge; and (5) I have never known anything about Alfano himself, or the nature and extent of any contact he may have had with John Gotti, other than the information the parties have provided to me on the record during the proceedings in this case.
A. The Motion Is Untimely
As the courts in this circuit have repeatedly "made clear, 'recusal motions are to be made "at the earliest possible moment after obtaining knowledge of facts demonstrating the basis for such a claim."'" LoCascio v. United States, 473 F.3d 493, 497 (2d Cir. 2007) (quoting Gil Enters., Inc. v. Delvy, 79 F.3d 241, 247 (2d Cir. 1996) (quoting Apple v. Jewish Hosp. & Med. Ctr., 829 F.2d 326, 333 (2d Cir. 1987))). That requirement is designed to "ensure that a party does not 'hedg[e] its bets against the eventual outcome' of a proceeding[.]" United States v. Amico, 486 F.3d 764, 773 (2d Cir. 2007) (quoting Apple v. Jewish Hosp. & Med. Ctr., 829 F.2d 326, 333-34 (2d Cir.1987)). In addition to requiring a motion at the earliest possible time, the courts of this circuit also apply a four-part test in assessing the timeliness of such a motion: we look to four factors: whether "(1) the movant has participated in a substantial manner in trial or pre-trial proceedings; (2) granting the motion would represent a waste of judicial resources; (3) the motion was made after the entry of judgment; and (4) the movant can demonstrate good cause for delay."
Id. (quoting Apple, 829 F.2d at 334 (internal citations omitted)). Applying that standard to the facts of this case, the instant motion is untimely.
The defendants contend that Alfano should have filed his motion no later than when my name "first appeared on the docket sheet for this case, which was well over a year ago." DE 77 ("Def. Memo.") at 2. That is not necessarily correct: the law requires a movant to seek disqualification promptly upon "obtaining knowledge" of the relevant facts, not simply when a more diligent party in the movant's shoes would have obtained such knowledge. See In re Kensington Intern. Ltd., 368 F.3d 289, 313 (3d Cir. 2004) (timeliness of motion depends on movant's actual rather than constructive knowledge of underlying circumstances); Preston v. United States, 923 F.2d 731, 733 (9th Cir. 1991) (recusal motion timely where movant learned of underlying facts, which had existed for eighteen months, only ten days before filing motion). Accordingly, assessing the timeliness of Alfano's motion requires me to know when Alfano learned of my role as a prosecutor in the federal Gotti case. Unfortunately, Alfano has not provided that information. One day before his counsel filed the instant motion -- and almost two weeks after the matter was discussed in open court in his presence, see DE 67 -- Alfano swore that he was "now aware" of my role in the federal Gotti prosecution. Alfano Aff. ¶ 6 (emphasis added). He did not specify when he first became aware of that fact, although he did add that "[t]he Defense attorneys have been appealing to the 'anti-John Gotti' bias based on [my] role as a 'former Gotti prosecutor.'" Alfano Aff. ¶ 11 (emphasis added). The latter statement suggests that Alfano's awareness of my prior work has prompted his concern for some time about the defendants' supposed exploitation of the circumstances.*fn8 Indeed, even after the defendants raised the issue of timeliness, DE 77 at 2-3, Alfano's counsel still failed to provide the information in his reply affidavit. Instead, he writes only that the motion was filed "as soon as possible after Plaintiff undertook the necessary diligence to determine if a 28 U.S.C. Section 455(a) motion was necessary to protect the Plaintiff's specific interests in this case." Bullard Aff. ¶ 19.*fn9
The record demonstrates that Alfano and his counsel knew of my role as a prosecutor in the federal Gotti case no later than August 24, 2007 (the date stamped on the bottom of the copy of my Congressional testimony that Alfano has submitted as part of his reply, see Bullard Aff. Ex. C). Indeed, the record demonstrates that Alfano must have learned that fact even earlier, as his counsel made clear that his discovery of my testimony came during his "research" into a matter that had already claimed his attention. See Tr. 20. Given the date of the Capeci Article on which Alfano relies -- April 12, 2007, see Bullard Aff. Ex. B -- it seems far more reasonable to conclude that he learned of my work as a prosecutor months before the instant motion was filed and improperly sat on the information until after he had litigated and lost the one pretrial matter he has considered sufficiently important to warrant seeking review pursuant to Rule 72.
I need not rely on such supposition. It is beyond dispute that Alfano waited almost a month between improperly asking another judge to disqualify me*fn10 and filing the instant motion. See DE 63 at 12-13 (asking district judge to recuse me in connection with Rule 72 objections filed on August 26, 2007); DE 73 (disqualification motion dated September 20, 2007). That fact alone makes it manifest that Alfano did not file his motion at the earliest possible moment after obtaining knowledge of facts demonstrating the basis for it, and therefore compels a finding that the motion is untimely. To frame the matter in the language of Apple and its progeny, Alfano -- who has participated in a substantial manner in pre-trial proceedings -- can demonstrate no good cause for his delay in filing the instant motion; and granting his request and requiring another magistrate judge to resolve any remaining non-dispositive pretrial matters would represent a waste of judicial resources.*fn11 See Apple, 829 F.2d at 333.
B. The Motion Is Meritless
As an alternative to denying the motion as untimely, I also deny it on the merits. The standard for assessing such a motion is settled, although it can be stated in a variety of essentially equivalent ways. The fundamental question presented by Alfano's motion is whether "a reasonable person knowing and understanding all the relevant facts" would doubt my ability to be fair in this case. LoCascio, 473 F.3d at 496 (quoting United States v. Bayless, 201 F.3d 116, 126-27 (2d Cir. 2000)); see also United States v. Oluwafemi, 883 F. Supp. 885, 890 (E.D.N.Y. 1995) (standard is "whether an objective, disinterested observer fully informed of the underlying facts would entertain significant doubt that justice would be done absent recusal") (citing DeLuca v. Long Island Lighting Co., Inc., 862 F.2d 427, 428-29 (2d Cir.1988)). Stated differently, the facts set forth in the affidavits supporting the motion "'must give fair support to the charge of a bent of mind that may prevent or impede impartiality of judgment.'" LoCascio, 473 F.3d at 498 (quoting Wolfson v. Palmieri, 396 F.2d 121, 124 (2d Cir. 1968)) (internal quotation marks omitted). Where that standard is not met, there is no basis for recusal and the judge is therefore "obligated not to recuse herself." Oluwafemi, 883 F.Supp. at 890 (citing In re Drexel Burnham Lambert, Inc., 861 F.2d at 1312; Wolfson, 396 F.2d at 124); see also Amico, 486 F.3d at 775 n.4 ("a judge should not disqualify himself in the absence of a violation of § 455") (citing In re Aguinda, 241 F.3d 194, 201 (2d Cir. 2001))
Applying that exacting standard, I must deny Alfano's motion. I start with the assumption that an objective, disinterested observer would doubt my ability as a judge to be fair to Gotti or indeed to any defendant in any case on which I worked as a prosecutor. I will even assume -- though I doubt the proposition would withstand legal scrutiny -- that such an observer would doubt my ability to be fair to a person whom the evidence in the case before me demonstrated to be a member of Gotti's criminal organization, even if I had never been aware of that person's connection with Gotti prior to my participation in the case in which such evidence was adduced. But the circumstances of this case do not come close even to that attenuated standard.
First, I have no information of any sort about Alfano that is not derived from my participation as a judicial officer in this case. Thus, nothing I may have learned about Alfano himself can possibly require my disqualification under either subsection (a) or subsection (b)(1) of 28 U.S.C. § 455. See Omega Engineering, Inc. v. Omega S.A., 432 F.3d 437, 447-48 (2d Cir. 2005) ("Knowledge gained from the judge's discharge of his judicial function is not a ground for disqualification under 28 U.S.C. § 455(b)(1).") (citing Katsaros v. Cody, 744 F.2d 270, 283 (2d Cir.1984)); United States v. Kasman, 1993 WL 278440, *3 (E.D.N.Y. July 20, 1993) (referring to, and citing "just a few" of, "the countless cases which reiterate the principle that a motion to recuse under § 455(a) may be made only on the basis of alleged bias or prejudice from an extra-judicial source").
Second, nothing that I have learned about Alfano in the course of this case in any way suggests that he had any relationship with Gotti at all, much less the kind of affinity with Gotti's criminal conduct that might presumably arouse doubts about my impartiality. Alfano is a decorated former firefighter, who served the public for 23 years before retiring in the aftermath of his work in the efforts to help his city recover from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. DE 34 (Alfano's Affidavit in Support of Motion Seeking a Protective Order) ¶¶ 3, 7. He has "never served as a bodyguard for John Gotti or any other member of organized crime." Id. ¶ 6. As Alfano has asserted without any contradiction of which I am aware, his appearance next to Gotti in the photograph at issue in this case was his first and only encounter with the man and essentially a matter of happenstance: as a result of his friendship with Gotti's co-defendant's counsel's clerk and with the co-defendant's cousin, Alfano decided to attend Gotti's trial and then, caught up in a crowd outside, found himself in Gotti's presence for a matter of seconds. Certainly the photograph itself conveys no information that would inevitably suggest anything untoward about Alfano, even to someone presumptively hostile to Gotti: an observer of the photograph familiar with Gotti but ignorant of Alfano could just as easily infer that Alfano was a law enforcement official escorting Gotti into or out of court as he could infer that Alfano was a criminal associate of Gotti's;*fn12 each of those incorrect inferences is no more or less obvious than Alfano's uncontroverted explanation of the event.
Third, none of the facts about my prior career on which Alfano relies adds anything pertinent to the basic proposition that I once prosecuted Gotti. Even if -- contrary to the facts, but consistent with the distorted way Alfano has described them -- I had been prosecuting Gotti "when the photograph at issue was originally taken," Memo. at 2, that circumstance would not give rise to any knowledge of or bias against Alfano. Similarly, the assumption that I recently attended a "reunion of Gotti prosecutors" adds no relevant information: a reasonable observer who would assume my bias toward Gotti and his confederates would infer from the latter fact only that my supposed antipathy toward Gotti continued, not that there was any reason to assume the bias extended to anyone else. Likewise, the fact that I mentioned Gotti's prosecution to illustrate my views about a proposed constitutional amendment would provide no reason for an objective observer to conclude that I would bring any bias to bear on this case.
In short, Alfano's motion reduces to nothing more than the proposition that a judge should withdraw from a case in which one party maintains a friendship with the family or counsel of another person who, in another lawsuit, was the co-party of still another person who was, in still another lawsuit, once adverse to the judge's former client. To state the proposition is to demonstrate the absurdity that refutes it. If that is the stuff of which recusals are made, members of the judiciary will have little time for anything other than ferreting out potential bases for disqualifying themselves; they certainly will never get around to actually doing their work.*fn13
As Judge I. Leo Glasser of this court once observed in rejecting a similarly baseless motion for disqualification, there is, in addition to the statute that prescribes a judge' s obligation to recuse, another statute that should properly be considered in this context: the one that required me, upon entering service as a federal judicial officer, to swear or affirm "that I will administer justice without respect to persons ... and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties incumbent upon me ...." 28 U.S.C. § 453 (quoted in Kasman, 1993 WL 278440, at *7). Like Judge Glasser, I remain ever conscious of my oath in considering the instant application. For the reasons set forth above, I deny the motion of plaintiff Robert Alfano to disqualify me pursuant to Title 28, United States Code, Section 455.
JAMES ORENSTEIN U.S. Magistrate Judge
(N.Y. Times, Dec. 12, 1990, at A1)