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Sharkey v. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

April 14, 2017

JENNIFER SHARKEY, Plaintiff,
v.
J.P. MORGAN CHASE & CO., JOE KENNEY, ADAM GREEN, and LESLIE LASSITER, in their official and individual capacities, Defendants.

          Attorneys for Plaintiff WIGDOR LLP, By: Douglas H. Wigdor, Esq., Lawrence M. Pearson, Esq., Michael J. Willemin, Esq.

          Attorneys for Defendants ARNOLD & PORTER LLP., By: Michael D. Schissel, Esq. Kathleen A. Reilly.

          OPINION

          ROBERT W. SWEET U.S.D.J.

         Plaintiff Jennifer Sharkey ("Plaintiff" or "Sharkey") has moved pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 144 and 455 for recusal and reassignment of this action to another judge. Defendants J.P. Morgan Case & Co. ("JPMC"), Joe Kenney ("Kenney"), Adam Green ("Green") and Leslie Lassiter ("Lassiter") (collectively, the "Defendants") oppose the motion. Upon the findings and conclusions set forth below, Plaintiff's motion is denied.

         Prior Proceedings

         The parties are familiar with the prior proceedings, including the motions to dismiss, motions for summary judgment, and other motions since the case was filed in this Court on May 10, 2010.

         This motion was first initiated by Plaintiff's January 26, 2017 letter requesting a conference to discuss the Court's bias against the Plaintiff in order to "not draw further attention to this matter." The letter was treated as a motion to reassign the case, was fully briefed and heard on March 2, 2017. On that date, Plaintiff requested an adjournment to file a more formal motion under 28 U.S.C. §§ 144 and 455, which was heard and marked fully submitted on April 12, 2017.

         Applicable Standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 144:

Whenever a party to any proceeding in a district court makes and files a timely and sufficient affidavit that the judge before whom the matter is pending has a personal bias or prejudice either against him or in favor of any adverse party, such judge shall proceed no further therein, but another judge shall be assigned to hear such proceeding.
The affidavit shall state the facts and the reasons for the belief that bias or prejudice exists, and shall be filed not less than ten days before the beginning of the term at which the proceeding is to be heard, or good cause shall be shown for failure to file it within such time. A party may file only one such affidavit in any case. It shall be accompanied by a certificate of counsel of record stating that it is made in good faith.

         The text of Section 144 establishes that another district court judge shall be assigned to hear the matter if the movant establishes that the motion is timely and the party's affidavit is sufficient. The district judge whose personal bias or prejudice is in question "must review the facts included in the affidavit for their legal sufficiency and not recuse himself or herself unnecessarily." Williams v. New York City Housing Auth., 287 F.Supp.2d 247, 249 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (quoting Rosen v. Sugarman, 357 F.2d 794, 797 (2d Cir. 1966). "To be legally sufficient under Section 144, an affidavit must show 'the objectionable inclination or disposition of the judge' [and] it must give 'fair support to the charge of a bent of mind that may prevent or impede impartiality of judgment.'" Hoffenberg v. United States, 333 F.Supp.2d 166, 171 (S.D.N.Y. 2004) (quoting Rosen, 357 F.2d at 798 (quoting Berger v. United States, 255 U.S. 22, 33-35 (1921)) .

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 455(a), "Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned." The Second Circuit applies this standard by asking whether '"an objective, disinterested observer fully informed of the underlying facts, [would] entertain significant doubt that justice would be done absent recusal, ' or alternatively, whether 'a reasonable person, knowing all the facts, ' would question the judge's impartiality." United States v. Yousef, 327 F.3d 56, 169 (2d Cir. 2003) (quoting United States v. Lovaglia, 954 F.2d 811, 815 (2d Cir. 1992) (citations omitted)).

         Plaintiff's Affidavit Fails to Meet the ...


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