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Ramos v. United States Dep't of Justice

January 21, 2010

ANTHONY E. RAMOS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Re Document Nos. 75, 76

MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR RECUSAL;DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM A FINAL JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court on the pro se plaintiff's motion for recusal and motion to vacate.*fn1 The plaintiff brought suit challenging the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals ("the Board") to disbar him from practice before it, certain immigration courts and the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"). On March 7, 2008, the court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment, rejecting the plaintiff's arguments regarding alleged deficiencies in the Board's decision. Dissatisfied with this result, the plaintiff subsequently filed successive motions for relief upon reconsideration, which the court denied as meritless. In the motions now before the court, the plaintiff argues that the undersigned judge should recuse himself because the court's prior rulings demonstrate a bias against the plaintiff. The plaintiff also argues that the court should set aside its prior rulings, relying largely on arguments already raised and rejected by the Board and this court on repeated occasions.

Because the plaintiff's motion for recusal rests solely on the plaintiff's discontent with the court's prior rulings, the court denies that motion. Furthermore, because the plaintiff has offered no reason to revisit the arguments raised, yet again, in the plaintiff's motion for relief from a final judgment, the court denies that motion as well.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

A detailed factual and procedural history of this matter may be found in the prior decisions of this court. See Mem. Op. (Dec. 1, 2008) at 2; Mem. Op. (Mar. 7, 2008) at 2-3. By way of brief background, the plaintiff commenced this action seeking review of the Board's refusal to reopen disciplinary proceedings that resulted in his disbarrment from practice before certain federal immigration authorities, including the DHS. The plaintiff also asked the court to compel the defendants to remove Internet postings that publicized the results of the Board's disciplinary proceedings.

On March 7, 2008, the court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment. Order (Mar. 7, 2008). The court concluded that the Board had appropriately addressed all of the plaintiff's arguments and that the Board's decision was "thoroughly reasoned and . . . based on facts in the administrative record." Mem. Op. (Mar. 7, 2008) at 9. The court also ruled that the Board had correctly determined that publication of the plaintiff's disbarrment was appropriate because he had given his prior consent and because the Board had properly addressed and rejected the plaintiff's challenges to publication. Id. at 10-11.

On December 1, 2008, the court denied the plaintiff's motion for relief upon reconsideration. Order (Dec. 1, 2008). In its memorandum opinion, the court rejected the plaintiff's arguments, determining that they merely repeated arguments that the court had previously rejected in its March 7, 2008 ruling. Mem. Op. (Dec. 1, 2008) at 5, 7-8.

On June 10, 2009, the plaintiff filed the two motions now before the court. See Pl.'s Mot. for Recusal; Pl.'s Mot. to Vacate. The court now turns to the applicable legal standards and the parties' arguments.

III. ANALYSIS

A. The Court Denies the Plaintiff's Motion for Recusal

1. Legal Standard for Recusal

In the absence of a timely filed affidavit under 28 U.S.C. § 144, the applicable statute governing recusal of a federal judge is 28 U.S.C. § 455,*fn2 which provides that "[any] justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned." 28 U.S.C. ยง 455(a). Section 455(b), which describes the circumstances in which judges must disqualify themselves, states that a judge "shall" disqualify himself "[w]here he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of the disputed evidentiary facts concerning the ...


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