Questions abound after Michael J. Davis entered an order in a case in which he is a party.
It started like this.
Our complaint was filed this morning. (See Page entitled, “Our federal lawsuit against the Minnesota Courts at top of homepage.) That complaint identifies Michael J. Davis as a defendant.
Along with it was filed a motion for ex parte TRO to enjoin Davis (who is the Chief Judge of the District of Minnesota as well as a defendant in the complaint) from having anything to do with the assignment of the case. motion for ex parte TRO
And then he did just that.
The case was assigned initially to one district judge, who recused. Recusal order signed by first judge assigned The Magistrate Judge did not recuse.
Then a second judge was assigned, the magistrate remained the same.
A couple of hours later, Michael J. Davis, himself, signed an order purporting to disqualify the entire bench. Disqualification order signed by Chief Judge Davis
The Plaintiffs are wondering what is going on here.
Judge Davis is a party to the lawsuit. Plaintiffs had a motion pending that he not be involved in assignment of a judge, in any way, including that he not be involved in the out-of-district judge process.
That was apparently ignored.
Plaintiffs feel that Judge Davis should not have signed any order about this case.
It’s not clear why he did it.
As plaintiffs understand it, federal judges make their own decisions, including about recusal. Plaintiffs did not see any order signed by the Magistrate Judge or the Article III Judge, suggesting that they had decided for themselves to recuse.
We can’t locate any authority for Judge Davis’ order. His order does not cite any authority. Even if there was an appropriate role for one judge in deciding to disqualify the entire bench, to our way of thinking, under these circumstances, that order should have been signed by the next-most-senior judge (not the judge who is a party).
It would be one thing if the randomly assigned Magistrate Judge had made the decision for himself to recuse. Or if the Article III Judge did that. It’s another thing entirely if Judge Davis decided that he was going to take other judges off the case.
We need to really watch the role of Chief Judge in this society. We must insist on limits of that authority.
Plaintiffs’ case is about challenging this type of conduct when it occurs in the state courts. Plaintiffs cite in their complaint, to a circumstance where a state “supervising” judge began to rule on another judge’s case. Plaintiffs are about exposing that state judge conduct, to show why it’s wrong. It’s ironic to see this development in this federal case.
We figure that Judge Davis did not have jurisdiction to sign the disqualification order. Look at it, he signed an order in another judge’s case.
It appears our motion for ex parte TRO is still pending…