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Okawaki v. First Hawaiian Bank

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

May 24, 2016

JANIS SAKAE OKAWAKI, Plaintiff,
v.
FIRST HAWAIIAN BANK, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING REQUEST FOR RECUSAL, DISMISSING AMENDED COMPLAINT, AND DENYING AS MOOT MOTION FOR POLICE PROTECTION ORDER DENYING REQUEST FOR RECUSAL, DISMISSING AMENDED COMPLAINT, AND DENYING AS MOOT MOTION FOR POLICE PROTECTION

          Derrick K. Watson, United States District Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         The Court dismissed Plaintiff Janis Sakae Okawaki’s Complaint and granted her leave to file an amended complaint in a May 16, 2016 Order. See Dkt. No. 6. On May 23, 2016, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed an Amended Complaint, Notice of Amendment of Parties of Complaint to Include FCH Enterprises, Inc. and City & County of Honolulu, and Motion for Police Protection (“Motion”). See Dkt. Nos. 16, 17, and 18. Plaintiff, however, did not comply with the specific guidance regarding amendment set forth in the Court’s May 16, 2016 Order. Because Plaintiff again fails to state a claim for relief and again fails to identify a basis for this Court to exercise subject matter jurisdiction, the Amended Complaint is DISMISSED without leave to amend. To the extent Plaintiff seeks the Court’s recusal, the request is DENIED. Plaintiff’s Motion is DENIED AS MOOT.

         DISCUSSION

         Mindful that Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court liberally construes her pleadings. See Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987) (“The Supreme Court has instructed the federal courts to liberally construe the ‘inartful pleading’ of pro se litigants.”) (citing Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam)).

         I. The Request for Recusal Is Denied

         The Court first addresses what it liberally construes as a recusal request, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 455, which provides, in part:

(a) Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
(b) He shall also disqualify himself in the following circumstances:
(1) Where he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party[.]

         Under the statute, “the substantive standard is whether a reasonable person with knowledge of all the facts would conclude that the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” Pesnell v. Arsenault, 543 F.3d 1038, 1043 (9th Cir. 2008) (citations, quotations, and alterations omitted). The “reasonable person” is not someone who is “hypersensitive or unduly suspicious, ” but rather a “well-informed, thoughtful observer” who “understand[s] all the relevant facts” and “has examined the record and law.” United States v. Holland, 519 F.3d 909, 914 (9th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted). “The standard must not be so broadly construed that it becomes, in effect, presumptive, so that recusal is mandated upon the merest unsubstantiated suggestion of personal bias or prejudice.” Id. at 913 (quotations omitted).

         The facts alleged by Plaintiff, stripped of opinion, conjecture, hyperbole, and innuendo, do not raise any question of prejudice, personal bias, impartiality, or impropriety by the Court. At best, Plaintiff contends that the Court is incapable of impartial judgment because of the Court’s prior ruling dismissing her Complaint. See Amended Complaint at 5 (“If U.S. Federal District Court Judge Derrick K. Watson cannot handle my English, maybe he should recuse himself from the bench for lack of Doctoral level English comprehension.”).

         The Court’s dismissal of her Complaint for failure to state a claim and based on the lack of subject matter jurisdiction evidences no impropriety or basis for any allegation of an extrajudicial source of bias or partiality. To the contrary, the allegation that the Court cannot comprehend her claim stems solely from the Court’s conduct during the course of adjudicating Plaintiff’s case. Nor does the entry of the Court’s May 16, 2016 Order “three (3) days after” Plaintiff filed her civil action mean that she “cannot get a fair trial.” Amended Complaint at 1. See also Id. at 4 (“I do not understand why Judge Watson is responding to me and dismissing my case prior to my court date. Isn’t U.S. Judge Watson undermining and disrespecting me, my case, the Defendants[?]”). The Supreme Court has explained:

First, judicial rulings alone almost never constitute a valid basis for a bias or partiality motion. In and of themselves . . . they cannot possibly show reliance upon an extrajudicial source. . . Second, opinions formed by the judge on the basis of facts introduced or events occurring in the course of the current proceedings, or of prior proceedings, do not constitute a basis for a bias or partiality motion unless they display a deep-seated favoritism or antagonism that would make fair judgment impossible. Thus, judicial remarks during the course of a trial that are critical or disapproving of, or even hostile to, counsel, the parties, or their cases, ordinarily do not support a bias or partiality challenge. They may do so if ...

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