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Guillory v. Ellis

United States District Court, Second Circuit

May 15, 2013

PATRICK GUILLORY, Plaintiff,
v.
KURT ELLIS, Cleric, Mid-State Correctional Facility; KYLE READY, Correctional Officer, Mid-State Correctional Facility; THEDA KUPIEC, Senior Mail Room Supervisor, Mid-State Correctional Facility; SHEILA MARLENGA, Facility Steward, Mid-State Correctional Facility; MAUREEN BOLL, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Corrections and Community Supervision; and BRIAN FISCHER, Commissioner, Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Defendants.

PATRICK GUILLORY, 09-B-0714, Greene Correctional Facility, Coxsackie, New York, Plaintiff pro se.

ADELE M. TAYLOR-SCOTT, AAG, GREGORY J. RODRIGUEZ, AAG, OFFICE OF THE NEW YORK, STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL, The Capitol, Albany, New York, Attorneys for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

MAE A. D'AGOSTINO, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

In this civil rights action, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants subjected him to religious discrimination, denial of access to the courts, and retaliation for the exercise of his First Amendment Rights, while he was incarcerated at Mid-State Correctional Facility ("Mid-State C.F."). See Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiff seeks monetary and injunctive relief.

Presently before the Court is Magistrate Judge Baxter's April 3, 2013 Order and Report-Recommendation, in which Magistrate Judge Baxter denied Plaintiff's motion seeking Magistrate Judge Baxter's recusal (Dkt. No. 140), Plaintiff's motion to change venue (Dkt. Nos. 139, 145), and Plaintiff's motion for a "court appearance" (Dkt. No. 144). See Dkt. No. 148. Moreover, Magistrate Judge Baxter recommended that the Court grant Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings (Dkt. No. 123) only as to the Equal Protection claim against Defendant Ready, but deny the motion in all other respects. See id. Further, Magistrate Judge Baxter recommended that, if the Court accepts his recommendation, the Court lift the stay and order Defendants to respond to Plaintiff's motion to compel. See id. Although not addressed by Magistrate Judge Baxter, also before the Court are Plaintiff's motion seeking the Court's recusal (Dkt. No. 140) and his motion for reconsideration of this Court's October 9, 2012 Decision and Order, in which the Court denied appeals from orders issued by Magistrate Judge Baxter. See Dkt. No. 122.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Review of a Magistrate Judge's Decision

When a party files specific objections to a magistrate judge's report-recommendation, the district court makes a " de novo determination of those portions of the report of specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection in made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (2006). However, when a party files "[g]eneral or conclusory objection or objections which merely recite the same arguments [that he presented] to the magistrate judge, " the court review those recommendations for clear error. O'Diah v. Mawhir, No. 9:08-CV-322, 2011 WL 933846, *1 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 16, 2011) (citations and footnote omitted). After the appropriate review, "the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

"Pre-trial discovery issues are generally considered non-dispositive matters." Statewide Aquastore, Inc. v. Pelseal Techn., LLC, No. 06-CV-0093, 2010 WL 610685, *2 (N.D.N.Y. Feb. 17, 2010) (citation omitted). "When considering an appeal from a magistrate judge's ruling on a non-dispositive matter, a district court will modify or set aside any portion of the magistrate judge's ruling that it finds to be clearly erroneous or contrary to law.'" Statewide Aquastore, Inc., 2010 WL 610685, at *2 (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a)).

A finding is clearly erroneous if "the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed." United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948); see also United States v. Isiofia, 370 F.3d 226, 232 (2d Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). "An order is contrary to law when it fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law, or rules of procedure.'" Tompkins v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 92 F.Supp.2d 70, 74 (N.D.N.Y. 2000) (quotation and other citation omitted). "Considering that magistrate judges are given broad discretion with respect to pre-trial discovery matters, reversal is warranted only when that discretion is abused." Tompkins, 92 F.Supp.2d at 74 (citation omitted).

B. Recusal

Federal judges must recuse themselves from cases in which their "impartiality might reasonably be questioned." 28 U.S.C. § 455(a). Adverse "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." Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 555 (1994).

In his motion seeking this Court's and Magistrate Judge Baxter's recusal, Plaintiff states that he is "making a simple letter request asking that both of my judge's recuse themselves from the above referenced case because both of them knew that Jews were being beaten, starved, and having their property destroyed for simply engaging in protected conduct." See Dkt. No. 140. Plaintiff claims that, despite this knowledge, both judges failed to take any ameliorative action and instead, simply sat "on the bench eating [C]heetos doing nothing whatsoever with the exception of kissing all of the defendants['] motions." See id. at 1.[1] Further, he states that "[m]y Judges could not give two poops about Jews or our Constitutional rights to engage in protected conduct." See id.

In the present matter, Plaintiff's conclusory allegations of bias and indifference do not warrant recusal. Plaintiff has offered no objective facts to suggest that this Court, or Magistrate Judge Baxter, has any personal bias against Plaintiff or his religion. The mere fact that the Court has ruled against Plaintiff during the course of this litigation is insufficient to establish that the presiding judge is biased against Plaintiff or his religion. See Clemmons v. Commissioner of Soc. Sec., No. 11-cv-1645, 2011 WL 6130926, *6-7 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 8, 2011); Farkas v. Ellis, 768 F.Supp. 476 (S.D.N.Y. 1991). Plaintiff's objections to Magistrate Judge Baxter's Order and Report-Recommendation make clear that Plaintiff's desire for the Court to recuse itself stems primarily from rulings against Plaintiff's interests, which is insufficient to support recusal. See Dkt. No. 153 at 3-4.

Further, Plaintiff's suggestion that the Court has intentionally delayed this case to facilitate alleged mistreated beyond the scope of the complaint is misplaced. As Magistrate Judge Baxter correctly pointed out, this is not the only civil action currently pending before the Court and, generally speaking, motions are handled in the order in which they are received. Further, although Defendants' actions have certainly caused ...


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