United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S ORDER
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISQUALIFY MAGISTRATE JUDGE GARY S. AUSTIN FROM
PARTICIPATION IN THIS CASE
LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL, District Judge.
Eric Charles Rodney K'napp ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed the Complaint commencing this action on November 22, 2006. (Doc. 1.) This action now proceeds on the Second Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff on November 13, 2008, against defendants Warden Derral G. Adams, Lieutenant ("Lt.") E. Smith, Lt. J. T. Tucker, Associate Warden S. Sherman, and D. Selvy (Classification Services Representative), for retaliating against Plaintiff by confining him in Ad-Seg under false pretenses and transferring him to another prison, and against defendants K. Motty, Sgt. C. Pugliese, Lt. Smith, R. Guerrero, Appeals Coordinator Cooper, Appeals Coordinator V. R. Garcia, Appeals Coordinator R. Hall, and Does 1-5 (Mailroom Workers) for interfering with his right to send mail in violation of the First Amendment. (Doc. 16.)
On March 26, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration by the District Judge of the Magistrate Judge's order of March 11, 2014. (Doc. 125.) Plaintiff also brings a motion to disqualify Magistrate Judge Gary S. Austin from further participation in this case. (Id.) Defendants have not filed any opposition.
II. MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION BY DISTRICT JUDGE
A. Legal Standard
Local Rule 303 provides that "[a] party seeking reconsideration of the Magistrate Judge's ruling shall file a request for reconsideration by a Judge... specifically designat[ing] the ruling, or part thereof, objected to and the basis for that objection. This request shall be captioned Request for Reconsideration by the District Court of Magistrate Judge's Ruling.'" Local Rule 303(c). "The standard that the assigned Judge shall use in all such requests is the clearly erroneous or contrary to law' standard set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A)." Local Rule 303(f). The clear error standard is highly deferential and is only met when "the reviewing court is left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.'" Cohen v. U.S. Dist. Court , 586 F.3d 703, 708 (9th Cir.2009) (citations omitted). The clear error standard applies to a district court's determination of whether to reconsider a magistrate judge's order regarding any pretrial matter, and requires that the reviewing court affirm unless, on the entire evidence, the court is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed. Alvariza v. Home Depot, 241 F.R.D. 663 (D. Colo. 2007). A magistrate judge's decision is "contrary to law" if it applies incorrect legal standard, fails to consider element of applicable standard, or fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law, or rules of procedure. Morgal v. Maricopa County Bd. of Sup'rs , 284 F.R.D. 452 (D. Ariz. 2012).
B. Magistrate Judge's Order of March 11, 2014
The Magistrate Judge's order of March 11, 2014 denied five of Plaintiff's motions: (1) Motion to Compel Production of Documents (Doc. 108); (2) Motion for Court to Determine Sufficiency of Defendants' Responses to First Request for Admissions (Doc. 109); (3) Motion for Court to Determine Sufficiency of Defendants' Responses to Second Request for Admissions (Doc. 110); (4) Motion for Court to Determine Sufficiency of Defendants' Responses to Third Request for Admissions (Doc. 113); and (5) Motion to Strike Document and Impose Sanctions (Doc. 120).
The order denied Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Production of Documents, (Doc. 108), on the ground that Plaintiff's thirty-nine Requests for Production were "unquestionably overbroad" in violation of Fed.R.Civ.P. 34, making it "impossible for Defendants to determine which of the documents in their control Plaintiff expects them to produce, or to know when they have completed searching for documents in response to the requests." (Doc. 123 at 10:4-9.)
The order also denied Plaintiff's three Motions for Court to Determine Sufficiency of Defendants' Responses to Requests for Admissions, (Docs. 108, 109, 110), on the grounds that both Plaintiff's Requests and Defendants' Responses were deficient under the Federal Rules. The Magistrate Judge found that Plaintiff's "300 Requests for Admissions on each of 8 defendants, and 140 Requests for Admissions on each of 5 defendants" were overburdensome and failed to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 36 which requires "[e]ach matter [to] be separately stated." (Doc. 123 at 12:21-13:1.) Defendants' Responses were found to "contain boilerplate objections which are not specific to Plaintiff's Requests or to requests for admissions in general." (Id. at 13:4-6.) Plaintiff was granted leave to propound 25 new Requests for Admissions on each of the 11 defendants, and discovery was reopened for this purpose.
The Magistrate Judge did not address Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Document and Impose Sanctions, (Doc. 120), but found it to be resolved by the order.
C. Plaintiff's Objections
Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's order on the grounds that the findings misstate the record, the Court failed to sanction Defendants for noncompliance with court orders and the Local Rules, and the Court improperly considered documents which Plaintiff had moved to strike. Plaintiff argues that the court did not fully explain its findings or cite sufficient legal authority in support of its rulings. Plaintiff also argues at length that the court mischaracterized some of his motions as motions to compel when they were instead motions for the court to comply with Rule 36(a)(6), ...