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Cho v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

September 25, 2014

DAE EEK CHO, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

ORDER

MARC T. TREADWELL, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Dae Eek Cho's numerous motions for recusal of the Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 144 and 455.[1] (Docs. 43; 45; 49; 54; 60; 76). For the reasons discussed below, those motions are DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

The Plaintiff is a Korean national. She was granted a six-month tourist visa, which expired on August 10, 1999. (Doc. 11-2). She received a Notice to Appear while residing in Honolulu, Hawaii, but failed to appear for a hearing set for December 10, 2007. She left no forwarding address and her case was administratively closed. (Doc. 11-4). After being detained for shoplifting charges at the Gwinnett County Detention Center ("GCDC") in Lawrenceville, Georgia, the Plaintiff's immigration case was transferred from Honolulu to Atlanta, Georgia. (Docs. 39-1 at 130:7-15; 11-5 at 2). The Plaintiff's first immigration hearing was scheduled for April 27, 2011, but the immigration judge administratively closed her case because she was still at the GCDC at the time of the hearing. (Doc. 11-7). The Plaintiff filed a motion to reopen her case after she was transferred into the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE"). (Doc. 11-6).

On April 29, 2011, the Plaintiff's husband, Edward Lamar Bloodworth, called the ICE duty desk and spoke with Immigration Enforcement Agent Gary Burcham. Bloodworth v. United States, 5:13-CV-112, Doc. 74 at 2. Bloodworth's first statement to Burcham was, "Is there anybody at Immigration that has any sense?" Id. While Burcham attempted to answer Bloodworth's questions politely, Bloodworth continued to complain about the immigration system in a "belligerent and angry" tone before hanging up. Id. Bloodworth called back ten to fifteen times that day and a few times the next day, but ICE agents were instructed not to answer any other calls from Bloodworth's number. Id.

On May 11, 2011, the Plaintiff and Bloodworth went to the immigration courthouse in Atlanta for the Plaintiff's immigration hearing. Id. Judge William Cassidy discussed the Plaintiff's immigration status with her and Bloodworth. Id. Because the Plaintiff was facing deportation, she wanted to file a Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, for waiver of her crimes so that she could adjust her status to a permanent resident based on hardship to Bloodworth as her United States citizen spouse. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 12). Judge Cassidy provided the Plaintiff with the application and instructed her and Bloodworth to return on May 25, 2011 with all of the documents and evidence necessary to adjudicate the request for the waiver. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 12).

On May 13, 2011, Bloodworth called the ICE duty desk and left a voice message in which he stated his name and number and yelled, "Call me!" Bloodworth, 5:13-CV-112, Doc. 74 at 3. An ICE agent contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and an FBI agent referred the matter to the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

On May 25, 2011, the Plaintiff and Bloodworth returned to the immigration courthouse in Atlanta. Id. When the Plaintiff's case was called, Judge Cassidy informed the Plaintiff that her case would have to be continued. Id. at 5. Bloodworth was no longer in the courthouse and available to participate in the hearing. An ICE agent had asked building security to escort Bloodworth out of the building, although Bloodworth quickly made his way out of the building before he could be physically removed. Id. at 4. Bloodworth had aggressively pushed past an ICE agent to speak with the Plaintiff, refused to leave the courtroom after being told to do so, and made a second attempt to speak with the Plaintiff after being told that he was not allowed to have contact with her. Id. at 3-4.

The next day, May 26, ICE agents created a "Be on the Lookout" ("BOLO") alert for Bloodworth. Id. at 5. The alert was created because of the statements made by Bloodworth during his calls to the ICE duty desk and his disruptive behavior during the Plaintiff's immigration proceedings. Id. The purpose of the BOLO was for officer awareness and safety and to notify any agents or court personnel who encountered Bloodworth in or around the building to report it immediately to Federal Protective Service and the Homeland Security Investigations duty agent. Id.

Between June 8, 2011 and February 21, 2012, the Plaintiff had numerous immigration court hearings. Id. at 5-9. On June 8, June 29, and July 7, the Plaintiff's attorney, Joseph Azar, requested a continuance. Id. at 5-7. Subsequently, the Plaintiff and Bloodworth fired Azar and retained new counsel. Id. at 6. On September 14, attorney Christopher Palazzola appeared on behalf of the Plaintiff. Id. The hearing was rescheduled because Palazzola was unprepared and did not request that Bloodworth be allowed to attend the hearing. Id. at 5-6. Apparently, Bloodworth did not inform Palazzola that he had previously been denied access to the immigration court, and Bloodworth was again detained by agents in a security area. Id. Judge Cassidy noted that Bloodworth was denied entry into the building but stated that the court would make "other means available, either telephone, affidavit, or the like, to ensure that safeguards are in place that we can have a full and complete hearing." Id. On September 15, Palazzola filed a motion to withdraw as counsel, stating that the Plaintiff and Bloodworth "have provided this law firm with false information and inconsistent statements regarding this case and their personal history." (Doc. 11-10 at 2).

On October 28, the Plaintiff appeared without counsel and Bloodworth did not attend the hearing.[2] Bloodworth, 5:13-CV-112, Doc. 74 at 7. Judge Cassidy noted that the Plaintiff was in a "difficult situation" because Bloodworth was "a necessary party to [her] case[, ]" but FPS would not allow Bloodworth to enter the building. Id. Judge Cassidy again stated that he wanted to "make arrangements for [Bloodworth] to testify, albeit telephonic[ally], " provided the Plaintiff with a list of attorneys who could represent her, and suggested she find an attorney to help her. Id. After Judge Cassidy attempted to explain to the Plaintiff that he did not have authority to admit Bloodworth to the courthouse or release her from detention due to her criminal record, the Plaintiff accused Judge Cassidy of scaring away her attorneys. Id.

On December 8, 2011, attorney Bonnie Youn appeared on behalf of the Plaintiff. Id. Bloodworth attended the hearing and Youn presented the 601 waiver petition. Youn requested that the court issue a subpoena to obtain the Plaintiff's medical records from the detention facility, and Judge Cassidy agreed to do so. Id. at 8. Judge Cassidy asked Youn to let him know when she wanted to reschedule the hearing. Id. On January 26, 2012, Youn filed a motion to withdraw. Id. On February 1, Judge Cassidy recused himself with an Order stating: "With the advent of the THIRD counsel's withdrawal of representation, I find it necessary to recuse myself from these proceedings to ensure a prompt and expedited hearing." (Doc. 11-9).

On February 14, 2012, the Plaintiff appeared without counsel and the hearing was rescheduled because Bloodworth failed to appear. Bloodworth, 5:13-CV-112, Doc. 74 at 9. Finally, on February 21, 2012, the Plaintiff appeared without counsel and Bloodworth attended the hearing. The Plaintiff and Bloodworth both testified. Id. Judge Pelletier, who replaced Judge Cassidy, had to invoke the rule of sequestration and remove Bloodworth from the courtroom because he interrupted the proceedings multiple times. Id. at 9 n.10. At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Pelletier granted the Plaintiff's application for adjustment of status to a lawful permanent resident. Id.

On January 17, 2012, Bloodworth filed a complaint with the Court, alleging that the "Atlanta Immigration Court is well known for its incompetence and inferior service in performance of [its] duties and responsibilities." Bloodworth v. United States Dep't of Justice, 5:12-CV-20, Doc. 1 at 4. Bloodworth also alleged that Judge Cassidy "often participates in [e]xparte communication with government lawyers and many others, " and "[t]his court its counterparts and superiors have created an atmosphere of cronyism that leads to delays, they co-mingle, overlap and administer injustice in all their activities." Id. The Court dismissed Bloodworth's complaint for failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. Bloodworth, 5:12-CV-20, Doc. 28.

After exhausting his administrative remedies, Bloodworth filed a new complaint with the Court on March 28, 2013. Bloodworth, 5:13-CV-112, Doc. 1. During his litigation, Bloodworth submitted many filings that attacked parties involved in the lawsuit. Regarding Assistant United States Attorney Sheetul S. Wall, Bloodworth alleged that she "is continuing a pattern of presenting lies and false affirmations... [and] has attempted to mislead and present false evidence in this case." Id., Doc. 67 at 1. Bloodworth filed a State Bar of Georgia complaint against Wall and submitted a copy for "the Court's evaluation." Id., Doc. 69-1. Regarding Judge Cassidy, Bloodworth alleged that the Court "granted immunity to Cassidy who has deported United States citizens and runs a reckless and unlawful deportation factory disguised as Immigration Court." Id., Doc. 68 at 2. Regarding the Court's law clerks, Bloodworth alleged that Wall visited and made phone calls to the Court's law clerks and received instructions on "tactical strategy." Id. Bloodworth's filings also contained belligerent statements with capitalized letters, including, "[f]inally the plaintiff is awaiting another ruling in this case and states LETS GET ON WITH IT MAKE THE RULING AND MOVE ON." Id.

On December 20, 2013, the Plaintiff and Bloodworth attended a status conference at which the Court learned that Bloodworth provided Wall with a false address. (Doc. 62 at 2:22-23). Bloodworth admitted he provided the false address because he "didn't want the United States Marshal[s] coming to my doorstep. I don't have a very good relationship with the Marshals Service, and that's the reason I didn't want them to come there." (Doc. 62 at 3:4-8). The Court also asked Bloodworth why the Plaintiff did not appear for her deposition in this case. (Doc. 62 at 3:16-22). Bloodworth admitted that he told the Plaintiff not to attend her deposition because he "was waiting for [the Court] to rule on [pending] motions." (Doc. 62 at 3:23-4:9). However, the Plaintiff admitted, when she was finally deposed, that her failure to appear "was solely [her] decision." (Doc. 39-1 at 5:24-6:4).

On May 7, 2014, the Court granted the Government's motion for summary judgment and dismissed Bloodworth's lawsuit. Bloodworth, 5:13-CV-112, Doc. 74. On May 23, Bloodworth filed a Notice of Appeal and attached two unrelated documents. Id., Doc. 76. First, Bloodworth attached a judicial complaint he filed against the Court with the Judicial Council of the Eleventh Circuit on May 21, 2014. Id., Doc. 76-1 at 1-4. Second, Bloodworth attached a document entitled, "Information That is Long Past Due and Timely Filed, " which Bloodworth signed "unrespectfully submitted." Id. at 5-8. This document starts out by noting, "I am 64 years old and do not need a lecture from a judge with no Immigration Law experience [and] no correct knowledge of the events of 2011 in this case." Id. at 5. The document then states: "I will be speaking man to man in this offer as this is something that I realize is new to you. I have news for you, you still put on your pants the same way that I do, that being one leg at a time." Id. Bloodworth also stated that he has "no apologies for any of my actions in 2011 since I was operating in a hostile and unforgiving and criminal environment that takes no enemies." Id. at 7.

This document also included a number of belligerent statements attacking parties involved in the lawsuit, including Judge Cassidy: "CASSIDY IS A CRIMINAL AND SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM THE GOVERNMENT AS A SO CALLED JUDGE. HE IS IN REALITY NOT A JUDGE BUT A MOUTHPIECE FOR THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND NOTHIN[G] MORE, HIS NAME IS CASSIDY." Id. Bloodworth also alleged that President Obama "will go down in history as the most corrupt, ill advised, incompetent and ill equipped president in our nation's history." Id. Bloodworth attacked Standard Form 95, which is used to present claims against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act: "The form 95 is a joke and was never intended for this type of case." Id. at 8. Finally, Bloodworth attacked the Court's Order: "As to your one piece of evidence statement in the order, the piece of evidence that you are referring to is an initial discovery of names of some of the criminals in Atlanta, ICE, FPS, HOMELAND SECURITY AND IMMIGRATION COURT." Id. at 7.

The Plaintiff filed the instant action on May 1, 2013. The Plaintiff alleges in her complaint that she and Bloodworth were continually denied access to the court, resulting in her continued incarceration for eight months. (Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 14-19). By her own admission, however, the Plaintiff was never denied access to her immigration hearings. (Doc. 39-1 at 67:16-21). It is true that Bloodworth was denied access. As detailed above, Bloodworth was prohibited from attending the Plaintiff's immigration proceedings because his aggressive behavior violated courtroom procedures and led to the creation of a BOLO alert.

In numerous motions and filings, the Plaintiff, like Bloodworth, has expressed concern about the Court's ability to adjudicate her case, as well as the behavior of AUSA Sheetul S. Wall. On March 26, 2014, the Plaintiff filed a motion to transfer the case to the Northern District of Georgia. (Doc. 24). The Plaintiff alleged that she "will be prejudiced by the [Assistant] U.S. Attorney's stalling and refusal to hand over information in this case. She will use the same tactics and incompetence already on display in the [P]laintiff's husband's case." (Doc. 24). On April 22, 2014, the Plaintiff filed the State Bar of Georgia complaint filed by Bloodworth against Wall, and in an accompanying "notice, " the Plaintiff "denounce[d] the unethical behavior" of Wall in both her case and in Bloodworth's case. (Doc. 32 at 1). The Plaintiff's "notice" is identical to the "notice" submitted by Bloodworth in his own litigation, which was also submitted on April 22, 2014.

On May 21, 2014, the Plaintiff and Bloodworth jointly filed a lawsuit against the Court in the Northern District of Georgia. Bloodworth v. Treadwell, 1:14-CV-1505-CAP (N.D.Ga.). They alleged that "Treadwell has consistently regurgitated the claims of the government in this case, has denied at least ten lawfully and timely filed motions by Bloodworth and has shown unprecedented bias in the Bloodworth and Cho cases." Id., Doc. 3 at 3. On June 2, 2014, the Plaintiff filed a motion for recusal and asked the Court "to refrain from the issuance of any further orders and until such time as the pending matter in the Northern District of Georgia (1-14-CV-1505 CAP) has been duly adjudicated to its conclusion." (Doc. 43). On June 5, the Plaintiff demanded that the Court "offer an answer" to the motion for recusal "as quickly as possible." (Doc. 45 at 1). On June 11, the Plaintiff filed another motion for recusal and provided ...


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