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February 26, 2003


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joan Humphrey Lefkow, District Judge


Before this court is the motion of defendant, The World Church of the Creator ("World Church"), to disqualify the undersigned United States District Judge (hereinafter, "the assigned judge") brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 144 upon the affidavit of World Church's principal spokesperson, Matthew Hale ("Hale"), attesting that the assigned judge has personal prejudice against World Church. World Church also moves under 28 U.S.C. § 455(a) on the basis that the assigned judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned and § 455(b)(1) on the basis that the assigned judge has a personal bias or prejudice against World Church. The motion is denied, based on the facts and reasons set forth below.


The case before this court is one of trademark infringement, unfair competition, and dilution under both the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1051 et seq., and state law, On January 31, 2002, after adjudicating the litigants' cross-motions for summary judgment, the assigned judge entered judgment in favor of World Church. TE-TA-MA Truth Found. — Family of URI, Inc. v. World Church of the Creator, 61 U.S.P.Q.2d 1914, 1922 (N.D.Ill. 2002). Plaintiff, TE-TA-MA Truth Foundation Family of URI, Inc. ("the Foundation") appealed, and the Seventh Circuit reversed this court's judgment and remanded the case with the instructions that this court enter "an appropriate judgment in favor of the Foundation." TE-TA-MA Truth Found. — Family of URI Inc. v. World Church of the Creator, 297 F.3d 662, 667 (7th Cir. 2002). On November 19, 2002, this court entered two separate orders, the first a permanent injunction against World Church in accordance with the Seventh Circuit's mandate and the second an order denying Defendant's Request for a Stay and to Correct Mistakes in the Appellate Court's Decision.

On December 12, 2002, the Foundation med a motion for rule to show cause why World Church should not be held in contempt of court for non-compliance with the court's November 19, 2002 order. The court granted the Foundation's motion and issued a rule to show cause against World Church and ordered Hale and World Church's counsel, Todd Reardon ("Reardon"), to appear before it on January 8, 2003 for a show cause hearing.

On December 18, 2002, World Church moved to disqualify the Foundation's counsel and on December 28, 2002, to disqualify the assigned judge. On December 24, 2002, Hale filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois a putative class action law suit against the assigned judge, alleging violations of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment constitutional rights of World Church's members arising from the court's injunction. Hale v. Lefkow, 02 C 1420, 2003 WL 122387, at *1 (C.D. Ill. Jan. 15, 2003). The court dismissed the case on its own motion on January 15, 2003, on the basis of judicial immunity and frivolousness. Id. at *3.

The assigned judge also viewed World Church's website, or, and there observed verbal attacks on her based on her presumed Jewishness, her marriage to a presumed Jew and her presumed "mixed race" grandchildren. (As to the truth behind these presumptions, the assigned judge has no comment). These materials were also contained in filings made by the Foundation in support of its allegations of contempt of court along with evidence that Hale and his followers had been allegedly harassing the Foundation's counsel via telephone and e-mail.

An agent of the FBI contacted the assigned judge during the last week of December 2002 to inform her that Hale had learned her home address. At approximately the same time, agents and employees of the FBI in cooperation with the Chicago Police Department and members of the United States Marshal's Service (the "Marshal's Service") offered a variety of security measures. The assigned judge accepted some of the security measures offered including security surveillance at her home, Hale was indicted on January 7, 2003, Case No. 03 CR 0011 (N.D. Ill.), and arrested in the federal courthouse in Chicago on January 8, 2003. The two-count indictment alleges that "from on or about November 29, 2002 through at least on or about December 17, 2002," Hale solicited another individual to forcibly assault and murder the assigned judge in violation of 18 U.S.C, § 373 (conspiracy/solicitation to commit a crime of violence) and, further, "endeavored to influence, intimidate, and impede" the assigned judge in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1503(a) (obstruction of justice/influencing or injuring officer or juror generally). (Case No. 03 CR 0011, Docket Number #1). In response to Hale's arrest, the assigned judge cancelled the contempt hearing until further notice. The arrest was broadcast on national news, evoking widespread expressions of outrage and concern to the assigned judge from friends, family and even strangers (including the Honorable Joan B. Lefkowitz, Justice of the New York Supreme Court in Westchester County, who reported that she had received a phone message condemning her for her ruling in a case about which she knew nothing until she heard of the arrest on the news).

On January 9 and 10, the assigned judge canceled her schedule, which included postponing a trial currently underway. On January 10, based on an unrelated personal matter and on the advice of personnel of the FBI and the Marshal's Service who needed to assess security risks after the arrest, the assigned judge along with some members of her immediate family left the city for several days. Because the assigned judge was unavailable, her schedule was canceled for the following week, January 13 through 17, 2003, although she communicated with her chambers, worked on other matters pending before the court and issued two opinions on other unrelated cases.

On January 23, 2003, Hale appeared before the Honorable Andrew P. Rodovich, United States Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of Indiana (because the case was assigned to a judge outside of the Northern District of Illinois), for a detention hearing. At that hearing the government proffered evidence in support of its position that Hale was a danger to the community and a risk of flight and, thus, must be detained pending trial. In that proffer, the government revealed, most salient here, that after the injunction was entered Hale referred to the assigned judge as "corrupt" and directed his chief of security (who was the informant) "to find out the home addresses of" the assigned judge, "probable Jew or married to a Jew . . . and the three attorneys representing plaintiff in this case," (Case No. 03 CR 0011, Tr. of Proceedings of Jan. 23, 2003 at 14.) Following this, Hale stated in an e-mail, "Any action of any kind against those seeking to destroy our religious liberties is entirely up to each and every Creator according to the dictates of his own conscience." (Id.) In another communication between Hale and the informant, the informant stated that "when we get the home address [referring to "the Jew, Judge"] we're going to exterminate the rat." (Id. at 16.) Hale responded, "Well, whatever you want to do, basically." (Id.) In a recorded conversation with members of World Church that occurred in June 2000, Hale stated ". . . flat you do have the right to resist by whatever means necessary [t]his government which we consider to be illegitimate, and this is an illegitimate government," (Id. at 24.) After reviewing the evidence, the magistrate judge detained Hale as a danger to the community and as a risk of flight. Hale's trial is set for July 14, 2003. The assigned judge has no reason to believe that she will be a witness in the criminal case.


A. Rule 11, Fed.R. Civ. P., compliance

As a threshold matter, the Foundation asks this court to determine whether World Church's motion to disqualify complies with Rule 11, Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Every pleading, written motion, and other paper shall be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney's individual name, or, if the party is not represented by an attorney, shall be signed by the party."). See Business Guides, Inc. v. Chromatic Communications Enter., Inc., 498 U.S. 533. 547-48 (1991) (determining that Rule 11 applies to a party's agent who signs pleadings). According to the Foundation, the signature of World Church's counsel, Reardon, appears on the papers as a rubber stamp facsimile. Further, the Foundation points out that the motion to disqualify was served not from Charleston, Illinois, where Reardon's office is located but from East Peoria, Illinois, where Hale resides. The Foundation also provides other credible allegations that Hale, a non-attorney law school graduate, is representing World Church despite the court's March 29, 2001 order that only a licensed attorney may represent World Church. (See Pl. Resp. at 2-5.) Based on these facts, the Foundation asserts that the court need not address the merits of the motion to disqualify because the motion violates Rule II. At this time, the court will not strike the pleadings and papers but will allow the Foundation to offer evidence of this conduct at the contempt ...

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