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Poulin v. United States

United States District Court, D. Maine

July 19, 2016

DANIEL POULIN, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO RECUSE

          JOHN A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Because the Defendant failed to present a valid reason for me to recuse myself from presiding over his case, I deny his motion to recuse.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On March 1, 2016, Daniel Poulin, acting pro se, filed a motion for me to recuse myself from any further judicial actions in his case. Mot. for Recusal (ECF No. 339) (Def.'s Mot.). On April 5, 2016, the Government responded, objecting to the recusal motion. Gov't's Obj. to Mot. for Recusal (ECF No. 343) (Gov't's Resp.). On April 19, 2016, Mr. Poulin replied. Reply to Gov't's Resp. on Mot. for Recusal (ECF No. 345) (Def.'s Reply).

         II. THE PARTIES' POSITIONS

         A. Daniel Poulin's Motion

         In his motion to recuse, Mr. Poulin recites some generalities concerning my handling of his case. He says that I have "for unknown reason(s), exercised partiality in favor of the government" and revealed "a pervasive bias, or prejudice." Def.'s Mot. at 1. He claims that I have "exercised partiality" by accepting the position determined in the Magistrate Judge's recommended decision and urged by the Government in its briefing concerning the proper characterization of his purported Rule 60(b) motion. Id. at 2. He asserts that I "apparently never read[] the government's or Magistrate's description of the 60(b) motion in light of the controlling preceden[ts]." Id. He then contends that I have "gone as far as to misquote, miscite and misrepresent the record for no other apparent purpose than to benefit the AUSA." Id. at 4. When Mr. Poulin brought these asserted errors to my attention, he believes that "they were simply ignored." Id. He concludes that this "is not an exhaustive list of circumstances that warrant a finding that the District Court showed substantial favoritism, but viewed in the aggregate, they are enough to warrant recusal." Id.

         B. The Government's Response

         The Government responds that "nothing remotely suggests that the Court's impartiality might reasonably be questioned or that recusal is in order." Gov't's Resp. at 1 (citing In re Bos.'s Children First, 244 F.3d 164, 167 (1st Cir. 2001)). After reviewing the legal standards applicable to a motion to recuse, id. at 1-2, the Government notes that I denied his first motion for reconsideration on April 24, 2014 and observes that "it is by no means clear that the instant motion is timely." Id. at 2-3.

         In light of Mr. Poulin's prior attacks on the trial Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) and the Court, the Government states that "any venom that has been injected into these proceedings is not that of the Court." Id. at 3. Instead, the Government quotes my earlier orders as conscious efforts to "take[] Mr. Poulin's assertions of legal error seriously" and to give them "careful consideration and reconsideration." Id. (quoting Order on Mot. for Recons. at 84 (ECF No. 310)). The Government views the Magistrate Judge's recommended decision of October 19, 2015 in the same vein. Id. The Government concludes that "the sole basis on which he insists that this Court should disqualify itself is that the Court has ruled against him, " which is "insufficient reason for the Court to grant the instant motion." Id. at 4.

         C. Daniel Poulin's Reply

         In his reply, Mr. Poulin first attacks the Government, noting that "it must be acknowledged and considered by an objective mind that the Government is a party opponent which has been the beneficiary of considerable favoritism from the Court." Def.'s Reply at 1. He calls the Government's position "disingenuous" and asserts that its "contrary position violates Rule 11." Id. at 2. He maintains that the Government's memorandum constitutes a "gross mischaracterization of Poulin's pleadings." Id.

         Mr. Poulin says that "the Government must admit or deny the allegations asserted against it by Poulin" and states that "[t]heir failure to do so should be held against them to the benefit of the opposing party." Id. at 2. But, he protests, "the District Court has, over considerable protest, systematically allowed the Government to ignore these rules with impunity." Id.

         Mr. Poulin explains the basis for his motion to recuse. Id. at 3. He concedes that he is "not protesting the District Court's substantive rulings, " but he is protesting "pervasive favoritism . . . in regard to Judge Woodcock's application and invocation of procedural defects in the process, applicable law, and the construction (or misrepresentation) of the claims themselves." Id. Mr. Poulin argues that my first show of favoritism "began with the Government's refusal to answer Poulin's claim that appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance for failing to raise Brady/Giglio violation(s) on appeal." Id. (emphasis in original). He complains that "Judge Woodcock adopted the Government's position that the claim was defaulted just as the Government proposed." Id.

         Mr. Poulin writes that "[a]nother circumstance that can be classified as an appearance of favoritism occurred when judge Woodcock proposed a merits analysis in the absence of critical exculpatory evidence that was heavily relied upon in the pleadings." Id. at 4. Mr. Poulin contends "[t]his was an abuse of discretion." Id. (citation omitted). He notes that "on April 24, 2014, the Court released an eighty-five page opinion that announced for the very first time that critical documents were missing from the record." Id. He decries my failure to require his lawyer to produce "critical evidence" as not only an error of law, but also evidence of my impartiality. Id. at 5 (citing Igartúa v. United States, 654 F.3d 99, 103 (1st Cir. 2011) (citing United States v. Campo, 140 F.3d 415, 419 (2d Cir. 1998) (per curiam)); United States v. Poff, 926 F.2d 588, 590-91 (7th Cir. 1991) (en banc)). Furthermore, he asserts that the so-called missing evidence was in fact before me. Id. at 6 ("indisputably in the Court's possession independent of the allegedly missing evidence"). Then, he says, "building upon its own evidentiary misrepresentations, the Court postulated counterfeit citations to the affidavits and memoranda for the apparent purpose of falsely representing the material elements of fraud outlined in the petition." Id.

         Mr. Poulin claims to be "at a loss" as to why I described his § 2255 filings as "brimming with a sense of injustice." Id. at 7-8. Although he admits that he "took issue" with "several aspects of the Court's previous January 27, 2014 Order, " he denies that this constituted a "blasting" or an "attack." Id. at 8.

         He criticizes the Government's description of the Magistrate Judge's recommended decision as "an objective, well-rounded record - - and precedent-based analysis of a pleading that, although labeled as one under Rule 60, is actually a successive 28 U.S.C. § 2255 petition[.]" Id. at 8 (quoting Gov't's Resp. at 3). He describes the Government's position as "plainly and simply false." Id. In support of his accusation, he cites Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524 (2005) and Rodwell v. Pepe, 324 F.3d [66] (1st Cir. 2005), which he says hold that a pleading that "seeks to correct defects in the procedural integrity of the § 2255 proceeding . . . falls squarely within the ambit of Rule 60(b) . . . ." Id. (emphasis in original).

         Finally, he asserts that under 28 U.S.C. § 144, once he has filed an affidavit in support of his motion to recuse, recusal becomes "mandatory." Id. at 9 (citing Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975)).

         III. STANDARDS FOR RECUSAL

         Mr. Poulin brings his motion to recuse under two federal statutes: 28 U.S.C. §§ 144, 455.

         A. 28 ...


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