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Glenn v. Dozier

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

September 20, 2019

KENNETH GLENN, Plaintiff,
v.
Commissioner GREG DOZIER, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         After conducting the frivolity screening required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), United States Magistrate Judge Charles H. Weigle recommends dismissing Plaintiff’s due process claims concerning the prison grievance system, dismissing Defendant Greg Dozier, and transferring the action to the Southern District of Georgia. Doc. 7. He also recommends denying the Plaintiff’s motion for recusal and motion for appointment of counsel (Doc. 4). Id. The Plaintiff has objected to the Recommendation. Doc. 8. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), the Court has considered the Plaintiff’s objections and made a de novo determination of the portions of the Recommendation to which he objects. The Recommendation (Doc. 7), is ADOPTED in part AND REJECTED in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Plaintiff’s claims in this case arise from his incarceration at Georgia State Prison (“GSP”) from August 1, 2017 through January 2018. Doc. 1. GSP is located in Tattnall County, Georgia, which is in the Southern District of Georgia. The Plaintiff states that when he was previously incarcerated at Johnson State Prison, he provided information to prison officials and others concerning illegal cell phone activity at that facility. Id. at 12. As a result, the Plaintiff “was beaten and raped” and therefore “required an open barracks PREA approved dorm with 24 hour video surveillance.” Id. The Plaintiff states he developed “serious mental health issues” and suffered significant physical injuries in the attack at Johnson State Prison, which require him to use adult diapers, a back brace, and a cane. Id.

         The Plaintiff states that he informed prison officials at GSP of his housing, medical, and mental health needs upon his arrival, but prison officials either delayed responding to his inquiries or refused assistance altogether. Instead of being placed in an open, PREA-approved barracks, the Plaintiff states he was placed in a two-man cell without certain features to ensure his safety, such as sprinklers, video cameras, or emergency call buttons. Id. at 15. The Plaintiff contends his placement exacerbated his mental health conditions, including “post-traumatic stress, post-rape syndrome, obsessive compulsive, anxiety and bi-polar disorder.” Id. at 13. Additionally, the Plaintiff states that he was not permitted to leave the cell to bathe after he soiled his adult diapers at night, which caused him to contract three staph infections in a short period of time. Id. The Plaintiff alleges that GSP prison officials also failed to accommodate his need for a shower chair to assist him in the shower and required him to walk up and down stairs despite having a “lower range” profile. Id. at 14. As a result, the Plaintiff alleges he fell and injured himself on several occasions, and GSP officials failed to properly treat the resulting injuries. Id.

         The Plaintiff also contends that various GSP officials interfered with his grievances, threatened him to “keep [his] mouth shut, ” and retaliated against him when he complained to them about his circumstances. See Id . at 12.

         The Plaintiff primarily names GSP officials as Defendants in this case: Warden Allen; Deputy Warden of Care and Treatment Pinero; Deputy Warden of Security Bobbett; Medical Director Sharp; Grievance Coordinator Howard; Chief Counselor and PREA Coordinator Wilson; PREA Investigator Thomas; and Building Counselor Bradley. Doc. 1 at 1, 9. But he also names two officials who are apparently located in Atlanta, Georgia: Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections (“GDC”) Greg Dozier and Regional Director Robert Toole. Id.

         The Plaintiff “demand[ed]” that counsel be appointed and moved to recuse the Magistrate Judge from the case. Doc. 4.

         The Magistrate Judge recommends dismissing without prejudice the Plaintiff’s due process claims regarding the prison’s grievance procedure and Greg Dozier. Doc. 7. He also recommends denying the Plaintiff’s motions for recusal and appointment of counsel. Id. Finally, he recommends transferring the action to the Southern District. Id.

         For the following reasons, the Recommendation ADOPTED in part AND REJECTED in part.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Recusal of the Magistrate Judge

         The Plaintiff objects (Doc. 8) to the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation to deny his motion for recusal (Doc. 7 at 1-4). He alleges that Magistrate Judge Charles H. Weigle ruled against him in a previous lawsuit: Glenn v. Madison Cty. Sheriff’s Office, 3:16-cv-8-CDL (M.D. Ga. Jan. 27, 2016). In that suit, Judge Weigle recommended that the Defendants’ motion for summary judgment be granted, and the District Court adopted the Recommendation. Glenn, 3:16-cv-8-CDL, Docs. 102; 103. Judge Weigle’s recommendation as to the disposition of the Plaintiff’s prior case provides no grounds for recusal. Bolin v. Story, 225 F.3d 1234, 1239 (11th Cir. 2000) (holding that “expect where pervasive bias is shown, a judge’s rulings in the same or related case are not sufficient basis for recusal”).

         The Plaintiff states that “during the course of [his previous] lawsuit, [his] mother personally drove to Augusta to the U.S. District . . . Office to ask Judge Weigle why he was not doing anything. . . . She got into a shouting argument with the people at the Office.” Doc. 8 at 2. The Plaintiff argues that this encounter will cause Judge Weigle to be biased against him. While it is not clear what office Plaintiff’s mother visited in Augusta, it is clear that it was not Judge Weigle’s office. Judge Weigle does not have an office in Augusta, Georgia. Judge Weigle presides in the Middle District of Georgia, while Augusta is located in the Southern District of Georgia. Thus, his mother’s “shouting argument” in some office in Augusta provides no grounds for recusal.

         The Plaintiff also states that he wrote Judge Weigle a letter “call[ing] him a dirty name, ” and, as a result, Judge Weigle “threw [his] old case out.” Id. The Plaintiff states this is proof of the Magistrate Judge’s bias, and recusal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 455(b)(1), which requires disqualification when the judge “has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party. . . .” In the previous case, Judge Weigle merely recommended granting the Defendants’ motion for summary judgment because they established there was no genuine dispute as to any material fact and they were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Glenn, 3:16-cv-8-CDL, Doc. 102. There is no indication beyond the Plaintiff’s own unsupported, conclusory allegations that the Plaintiff’s letter had anything to do with the disposition of this previous suit. Likewise, there is no indication beyond the Plaintiff’s own unsupported, conclusory allegations that Judge Weigle is biased. The Plaintiff has not established that Judge Weigle has any personal prejudice that would render him unable to fairly and impartially consider all of the Plaintiff’s claims.

         The Court, therefore, accepts and adopts the recommendation regarding the Plaintiff’s motion for recusal. ...


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