United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division
GODBEY WOOD, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
four cases, Plaintiffs move to vacate order for fraud on the
Court and to reopen. Defendant moves for an injunction to
limit future filings. Dkt. No. 118, No. 2:00-CV-158.
Plaintiffs' motions will be DENIED, and Defendant's
motion will be DENIED at this time.
facts of these cases are set out in the Court's previous
order. See Dkt. No. 121, No. 2:00-CV-158.
Rule of Civil Procedure 60(d)(3) allows a judgment to be set
aside for fraud on the court. Such fraud "must be
established by clear and convincing misconduct."
Gupta v. U.S. Att'y Gen., 556 F.App'x 838,
840 (11th Cir. 2014) (per curiam). "Generally speaking,
only the most egregious misconduct, such as bribery of a
judge or members of a jury, or the fabrication of . evidence
by a party in which an attorney is implicated, will
constitute a fraud on the court." Id.
60(b)(6) is a catch-all provision allowing relief from a
final judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(6). The party raising it
must show "extraordinary circumstances."
Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 535 (2005)
(citations omitted). "[T]hat is, movants must show that
'absent such relief, an "extreme" and
"unexpected" hardship will result.'"
Galbert v. W. Caribbean Airways, 715 F.3d 1290, 1294
(11th Cir. 2013) (quoting Griffin v. Swim-Tech
Corp., 722 F.2d 677, 680 (11th Cir. 1984) (quoting
United States v. Swift & Co., 286 U.S. 106, 119
(1932))). "Even then, whether to grant the requested
relief" is left to "the district court's sound
discretion." Arthur v. Thomas, 739 F.3d 611,
628 (11th Cir. 2014) (citations omitted).
courts "may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in
aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the
usages and principles of law." 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a).
PLAINTIFFS' MOTIONS TO VACATE ABE DENIED.
moved to vacate order for fraud on the Court on March 16 and
April 5, 2017. Plaintiffs claim that the fraud in question
"has been made by the court itself, " as this Judge
"served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of
Georgia from 2004 to 2007; and adjudicated the civil actions
filed reference the U.S. Attorney and Assistant U.S.
Attorneys for the Southern District of Georgia." Dkt.
No. 123 at 3, No. 2:00-CV-158. This Judge, Plaintiffs argue,
"[did] not have discretion not to disqualify
[herself]." Id., at 7. Plaintiffs also allege
that I needed to recuse myself because one of the defendants
was an Assistant U.S. Attorney who represented me in a
different, unrelated lawsuit that was dismissed on immunity
grounds. Dkt. No. 119 at 1.
was no fraud on the court. I served as U.S. Attorney between
2004 and 2007. Seven of the cases brought by Plaintiffs had
not even been filed by that point. See United States v.
Champlin, 388 F.Supp.2d 1177, 1181 (D. Haw. 2005) P[T]he
United States Attorney . . . would have to rescue [sic] . . .
herself from cases investigated or prosecuted while . . .
she was in office . . . ." (emphasis added)). The
other one, 2:00-CV-158, did not have any filings between 2002
and 2014. It was not proceeding in any meaningful way while I
was U.S. Attorney, and I had no involvement in the case
during that time. See Dkt. Nos. 94-95. Therefore,
"an objective, fully informed lay observer would [not]
entertain significant doubt about [my] impartiality, ".
so I was under no obligation to recuse myself. Christo v.
Padgett, 223 F.3d 1324, 1333 (11th Cir. 2000). Besides,
it is much too late to complain that I should have recused
myself when the reason why I supposedly needed to was known
to Plaintiffs long ago. See, e.g.,
Daniel v. U.S. Marshal Serv., 188 F.App'x 954,
959 (11th Cir. 2006) (per curiam) ("Although a literal
reading of [28 U.S.C.] § 455 places the duty to
recognize the conflict on the judge, this Court has held that
a motion to disqualify must be timely." (citations
mere fact that I once served as U.S. Attorney does not
disqualify me, either. See, e.g.,
Ciampi v. City of Palo Alto, No. 10-CV-02655, 2010
WL 3619544, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 13, 2010) ("Any
district judge who previously served in a U.S. Attorney's
Office is likely to 'see[ ] previous colleagues in her
capacity as a judge as a matter of course.' The mere fact
of a judge's former acquaintance with a party . . .
through her previous employment does not constitute grounds
for recusal. If this Court held otherwise, it would be nearly
impossible for former [Assistant U.S. Attorneys] to become
federal district judges, for they would be required to recuse
themselves from any case in which their former colleagues
served as counsel .... In this case, there is no close
relationship, financial interest, or out-of-court information
. . . that would cause a reasonable person to question the
Court's impartiality." (internal citations
the fact that one of the Assistant U.S. Attorney defendants
in No. 2:15-CV-24 represented me in an unrelated matter,
"[c]ourts across the country have accepted the propriety
of United States Attorney representation of federal
judges"-even though members of U.S. Attorney's
offices regularly appear before those judges in other
proceedings. Bryan v. Murphy, 246 F.Supp.2d 1256,
1261 (N.D.Ga. 2003). Indeed, "[n]ormally, when federal
judges are sued in their official capacity, a government
attorney will be assigned to defend them." Tashima
v. Admin. Office of U.S.Ct., 967 F.2d 1264, 1267 (9th
Cir. 1992). Not only is this compatible with judicial
independence-it is "necessary" to it. Id.
Recusal is only required if the judge has "a personal
rather than an official interest in the litigation in which
the counsel in question had represented [her]."
United States v. Zagari, 419 F.Supp. 494, 506 (N.D.
Cal. 1976) . I only had an official interest in Moreland
v. Wood, so this is not a reason why I should have
recused myself here and it cannot support an allegation of
fraud on the court. See Dkt. No. 59 at 13,
Moreland v. Wood, No. 2:14-CV-143 (finding that I
was, "at all times [relevant to Moreland],
acting within [my] judicial capacities."); id.
at 17 ...