United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REASSIGN AND GRANTING MOTION TO BE EXCUSED FROM PREPARING JOINT CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE STATEMENT Re: Dkt. No. 107
JAMES DONATO, District Judge.
Plaintiff James Ellis Johnson, who is litigating this action pro se, has asked the Court to reassign the case to the previously assigned judge and also to excuse him from the requirement to file a joint case management conference statement. See Dkt. No. 107. The Court vacates the hearing on this motion set for May 28, 2014, under Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), because this motion is appropriate for disposition without oral argument.
On May 28, 2013, Plaintiff, a United States veteran, filed a complaint against the United States, the City and County of San Francisco ("CCSF"), five employees of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Mayor of San Francisco, and the Sheriff of CCSF, alleging that the Department of Veterans Affairs police used excessive force and humiliated him during an arrest, and that the Sheriff stood by and did nothing. See Dkt. No. 1.
On August 15, 2013, this case was assigned to Judge Chen, (Dkt. No. 27), after Defendant United States declined to proceed before a magistrate judge (Dkt. No. 21). On December 11, 2013, the Court granted Defendant CCSF's Motion to Dismiss, and granted in part and denied in part Defendant United States' Motion to Dismiss. Dkt. No. 75. On January 23, 2014, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. Dkt. No. 83. On February 21 and 24, 2014, Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, (Dkt. Nos. 86, 88), and a hearing on those motions was set for April 18, 2014 (Dkt. No. 94). On April 16, 2014, the case was reassigned to this Court pursuant to General Order 44, and the hearing on Defendants' motions was vacated and renoticed for May 28, 2014. Dkt. No. 106.
On April 24, 2014, Plaintiff filed the motion for reassignment. Dkt. No. 107. Liberally construing Plaintiff's motion, it requests an order (1) reassigning this case to Judge Chen, and (2) excusing Plaintiff from participating in the preparation of a joint case management conference statement. On May 6, 2014, Defendants filed a joint opposition to Plaintiff's motion. Dkt. No. 109. On May 14, 2014, Plaintiff filed a reply. Dkt. No. 112.
I. Motion to Reassign Case
Plaintiff's motion argues that this case should be reassigned to Judge Chen for two reasons. First, Plaintiff contends that the timing of the reassignment has prejudiced him. Dkt. No. 107 at 2. Second, Plaintiff objects to proceeding before Judge Donato because he previously represented Defendant City and County of San Francisco as a Deputy City Attorney. Id. at 3.
A. Timing of Reassignment Under General Order 44
Plaintiff states that he is scheduled to have an operation on June 4, 2014, which will "lay Plaintiff off [ sic ] for up to a year 6 months at the lease [ sic ]." Id. Plaintiff contends that the timing of the reassignment - two days before the scheduled hearing date - leads him to believe "that this was planned and there for [ sic ] an act of corruption" and that the reassignment has "undermined Plaintiff's right to a fair hearing." Id. Plaintiff does not believe that this case was reassigned automatically, but rather, that the reassignment was a "trick being played on Plaintiff to get this case dismissed." Id.
Plaintiff's arguments are misdirected. Civil Local Rule 3-3 provides that the assignment of cases done pursuant to the Assignment Plan of the Court, and that "[t]he Clerk may not make or change any assignment except as provided in these local rules or in the Assignment Plan (General Order No. 44)." Civ. L.R. 3-3. The Assignment Plan "provide[s] an equitable system for a proportionate division of the caseload among the district and magistrate judges of the court" and requires that cases in this District "shall be assigned blindly and at random by the Clerk by means of an automated system" that provides "proportionate, random and blind assignment of cases." Gen. Order No. 44(A).
This case, along with many others, was randomly assigned to this Court on April 16, 2014, pursuant to Local Rule 3-3 and the Assignment Plan. The transfer of the case to this Court was a neutral and impartial action made pursuant to the Local Rules and the Assignment Plan. Plaintiff has not established, and based on the facts cannot possibly show, that the transfer has "undermined Plaintiff's right to a ...