United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division
December 29, 2014
STEPHEN YAGMAN, Plaintiff,
JOHN OWEN BRENNAN, and CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, Defendants
For Stephen Yagman, Plaintiff: Joseph Reichmann, Yagman and Reichmann, ATTORNEY HAS NOT CONSENTED TO ELECTRONIC SERVICE, Venice Beach, CA.
For John Owen Brennan, Central Intelligence Agency, Defendants: Vesper Mei, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Department of Justice - Civil Division, Senior Counsel - Federal Programs Branch, Washington, DC.
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S EX PARTE APPLICATION TO DISQUALIFY ALL JUDICIAL OFFICERS OF THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
JUSTIN L. QUACKENBUSH, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Before the court is the Plaintiff's Ex Parte Application For Order Disqualifying All Judicial Officers of the Central District of California (ECF No. 27). By reason of the nature of the Application, the matter was assigned to the undersigned, a Senior United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Washington.
In his Reply (ECF No. 30) the Plaintiff also seeks to have the undersigned recused from this matter, alleging that I am a United States District Judge for the Central District of California since my name is included on the " FAQs about Judges' Procedure and Schedules" on the Central District of California website. However, I am not a Judge of the Central District of California, but only a Visiting Judge as shown on the " FAQs." I, as many other Senior Judges, periodically sit in districts other than my home district of the Eastern District of Washington including the Districts of Idaho; Nevada; Arizona; Northern, Central, and Eastern Districts of California. I currently have 4 open and active cases assigned to me in the Central District of California, all in Riverside, California. The Plaintiff's suggestion that I be recused in this matter is DENIED.
In his Application, the Plaintiff states that pleadings filed by Vesper Mei, the Department of Justice attorney appearing for the Defendants, listed the name of Andre Birotte thereon, thus suggesting that Judge Birotte filed pleadings on behalf of the Defendant. The Declaration of Vesper Mei (ECF No. 29-1) clearly establishes that the listing of Andre Birotte, Jr. on Defendants' pleadings was the result of clerical error. The Plaintiff's Reply (ECF No. 30) establishes that Andre Birotte was sworn in as a United States District Judge for the Central District of California on August 8, 2014. Plaintiff's Complaint was not filed until October 17, 2014 and was assigned to Judge Philip S. Gutierrez on that date. Judge Birotte could have had no involvement in this pending case while he was a United States Attorney, because the case was not filed while he was a U.S. Attorney. Judge Birotte had no involvement in this action as a judge, because it was not assigned to him. Plaintiff's assertion that the filing of his FOIA claim with the Defendants on August 2, 2014, while Andre Birotte was still a United States Attorney, requires the recusal of all Central District of California judges is clearly without merit. Plaintiff's further assertion that a Central District of California Judge seeing the erroneous inclusion of Judge Birotte's name on Defendant's pleadings would result in such a judge being unable to " fairly decide" this action is also without merit. Such a contention would preclude any Central District of California judge from presiding over any criminal matter that originated while Andre Birotte was the United States Attorney. Clearly such a position cannot and is not well taken. Plaintiff's meritless assertions can also be addressed by the refiling of the court documents that contained the clerical error of the inclusion of the name of Andre Birotte. Those documents include the Notice of Appearance (ECF No. 14) and the Answer (ECF No. 25). Upon the refiling of those documents the previously filed documents shall be stricken from the Docket Sheet for this case.
Based upon the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
1. Plaintiff's Ex Parte Application For Order Disqualifying All Judicial Officers of the Central District of California is DENIED.
2. Counsel for the Defendants shall promptly refile all previously filed court documents that erroneously contained the name of Andre Birotte, Jr., omitting therefrom the name of Andre Birotte, Jr.
3. Upon the refiling of the substitute documents referred to in # 2 above, the previously filed pleading(s) shall be stricken.
The Clerk shall enter this Order Denying Application and furnish copies to counsel and to the Plaintiff.