United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
S. BRUCE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
cause is before the Court on Defendant's motion to
enforce settlement agreement, on United States Magistrate
Judge Eric I. Long's Report & Recommendation
(“R&R”) that Defendant's motion to
enforce settlement agreement be granted, on Plaintiff's
objections to Magistrate Judge Long's R&R, and on
Plaintiff's other pending motions.
addressing any other issue, the Court must address Plaintiff
Jerry Lee Lewis' motion asking that the undersigned be
disqualified from presiding over this case. Although the
basis for his motion is not entirely clear, Plaintiff has
listed, in his motion for disqualification, certain rulings
issued by the Court in this case. Therefore, the Court
understands Plaintiff's claim to be that the undersigned
is biased against him based upon the rulings that the Court
has issued. Plaintiff has interpreted the Court's rulings
and the denial of his motions as demonstrating some type of
collusion between the undersigned and Defendants and also as
an attempt by the undersigned to hide the Constitutional
wrongs being inflicted upon him and other inmates within the
Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”).
Accordingly, Plaintiff asks that the undersigned by
disqualified as acting as the presiding judge in this case.
put, there is no reason for the undersigned to recuse himself
in this case. The statutory ground for a judge to recuse
himself takes two forms. Title 28 U.S.C. § 455(a)
requires a judge to disqualify himself “in any
proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be
questioned.” Id. “The purpose of the
statute ‘is to preserve the appearance of
impartiality.'” Weddington v. Zatecky, 721
F.3d 456, 461 (7thCir. 2013)(quoting United
States v. Johnson, 680 F.3d 966, 979 (7th
Cir. 2012)). The statute also requires a judge to recuse
himself if, among other things, he has “a personal bias
. . . concerning a party . . . .” 28 U.S.C. §
recusal is required under § 455 “whenever there is
‘a reasonable basis' for finding an
‘appearance of partiality under the facts and
circumstances' of the case.” Pepsico, Inc. v.
McMillen, 764 F.2d 458, 460 (7th Cir.
1985)(quoting SCA Servs., Inc. v. Morgan, 557 F.2d
110, 116 (7th Cir. 1977)). A judge must remain
mindful, however, that “needless recusals exact a
significant toll” and “should exercise care in
determining whether recusal is necessary, especially when
proceedings already are underway.” In re United
States, 572 F.3d 301, 308 (7th Cir. 2009)
(noting that “[a] change of umpire mid-contest may
require a great deal of work to be redone and facilitate
judge-shopping”) (internal quotations and citation
omitted). Section 455(a) does not require recusal simply
because a judge has formed an opinion, rather it only
requires recusal if the “opinion is somehow wrongful or
inappropriate, either because it is undeserved, or because it
rests upon knowledge that [the judge] ought not possess, . .
. or because it is excessive in degree.” Liteky v.
United States, 510 U.S. 540, 550 (1994).
addition, 28 U.S.C. § 144 requires a judge to recuse
himself upon a showing of “actual bias.”
Id.; Hoffman v. Caterpillar, Inc., 368 F.3d
709, 718 (7th Cir. 2004). “Only personal
animus or malice on the part of the judge can establish
bias.” Fairley v. Andrews, 423 F.Supp.2d 800,
803 (N.D. Ill. 2006)(quoting Hoffman, 368 F.3d at
718). “A trial judge has as much of an obligation not
to recuse himself when there is no occasion for him to do so
under § 144 as there is for him to do so when the
converse prevails.” Hoffman, 368 F.3d at 717
(quoting United States v. Ming, 466 F.2d 1000, 1004
(7th Cir. 1972)). Judicial rulings alone almost
never constitute a valid basis for disqualification.
Id. at 718 (citing Liteky, 510 U.S. at
under § 144 is mandatory once a party submits a timely
and sufficient affidavit and her counsel presents a
certification stating that the affidavit is made in good
faith.” United States v. Sykes, 7 F.3d 1331,
1339 (7th Cir. 1993). “A § 144
affidavit is timely if it is filed at the earliest moment
after the movant acquires knowledge of the facts that
demonstrate the basis for the disqualification.”
Franzen v. Ellis Corp., 2004 WL 406822, * 1 (N.D.
Ill. Feb. 12, 2004).
instant case, the undersigned possesses no bias against
Plaintiff. Therefore, the undersigned will not recuse himself
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 144. The undersigned had no
knowledge of or dealings with Plaintiff prior to his filing
this suit. Moreover, Plaintiff has not filed the affidavit
required by § 144. Plaintiff has simply based his
recusal motion upon the Court's rulings on his motions,
but as noted above, judicial rulings alone seldom constitute
a valid basis for disqualification. Hoffman, 368
F.3d at 717. Because the undersigned possesses no actual bias
against Plaintiff, the Court finds that its rulings on his
various motions do not constitute a proper basis for
disqualification under 28 U.S.C. § 144.
the Court finds that its rulings upon Plaintiff's motions
do not constitute proper grounds for disqualification under
28 U.S.C. § 455. “Judicial rulings, routine trial
administration efforts, and ordinary admonishments are not
grounds for recusal.” Secrease v. W. & S. Life
Ins. Co., 2015 WL 7096295, * 3 (S.D. Ind. Nov. 12,
2015). In order to justify recusal under § 455(a), the
impartiality of which a judge is accused must almost always
be extrajudicial. Id.; O'Regan v.
Arbitration Forums, Inc., 246 F.3d 975, 988
(7th Cir. 2001); Spangler v. Sears, Roebuck
& Co., 759 F.Supp. 1327, 1332 (S.D. Ind.
1991)(“[I]t is axiomatic that a motion to recuse
because of the appearance of partiality may not be based
merely upon unfavorable judicial rulings regardless of the
correctness of those rulings.”). Accordingly,
“[w]hen a motion for recusal fails to set forth an
extrajudicial source for the alleged bias and no such source
is apparent, the motion should be denied.”
Sprinpangler, 759 F.Supp. at 1329 (citing
Jaffree v. Wallace, 837 F.2d 1461, 1465
(11th Cir. 1988)).
Plaintiff has not set forth any extrajudicial source for the
undersigned's alleged bias against him. Instead,
Plaintiff cites his dissatisfaction with prior rulings, but
Plaintiff's dissatisfaction is not evidence of bias, nor
is it a valid basis for a change of judge. United States
v. Grinnell Corp., 384 U.S. 563, 583
(1966)(“alleged bias and prejudice to be disqualifying
must stem from an extrajudicial source and result in an
opinion on the merits on some basis other than what the judge
has learned from his participation in the case”).
short, the undersigned possesses no actual bias against
Plaintiff, and therefore, recusal is not required under 28
U.S.C. § 144. Likewise, Plaintiff has cited no
extrajudicial source of any alleged bias by the undersigned
(because none exists), and therefore, recusal is not
necessary under 28 U.S.C. § 455 because a reasonable
person would not perceive a significant risk that the
undersigned will resolve the case on a basis other than on
the merits. Fond Du Lac Bumper Exch., Inc. v. Jui Li
Enter. Co., Ltd., 2015 WL 9051333, * 5 (E.D. Wis. Dec.
to Plaintiff's objections to Magistrate Judge Long's
R&R and to Defendant's motion to enforce settlement
agreement, after a careful de novo review,
Plaintiff's objections to the R&R are overruled.
Magistrate Judge Long's R&R is accepted and adopted.
And, Defendant's motion to enforce settlement agreement
Magistrate Judge Long correctly noted, oral settlement
agreements are enforceable under federal law provided that
all contract formalities have established. Taylor v.
Gordon Flesch Co., Inc., 793 F.2d 858, 862
(7th Cir. 1986). More specifically,
“Illinois law governs the enforceability of the
settlement agreement.” Montgomery v. Village of
Posen, 711 Fed.Appx. 343, 345 (7th Cir.
2018)(citing Lewis v. Sch. Dist. No. 70, 648 F.3d
484, 486 n.1 (7th Cir. 2011)). In order to enforce
an oral settlement agreement, three elements must be shown:
(1) an offer was made by one party, (2) accepted by the
other, and (3) consideration was exchanged. Centurylink
v. BBC Elec. Servs., Inc., 2013 WL 5461097, * 1 (N.D.
Ind. Sept. 26, 2013); Hyde Park Union Church v.
Curry, 942 F.Supp. 360, 363 (N.D. Ill. 1996). The
parties must knowingly and voluntarily enter into the
agreement either personally or by providing their attorneys
with authority to settle. Hartman v. Hook-Superx
Inc., 42 F.Supp.2d 854, 855 (S.D. Ind. 1999).
the Court agrees with Magistrate Judge Long that the Parties
reached an oral settlement agreement at the conclusion of the
mediation. Plaintiff confirmed that agreement and his
understanding of the agreement to Magistrate Judge Long on
the record. Accordingly, the ...