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U.S. Bank Trust, N.A. v. King

United States District Court, D. Maine

January 15, 2020

GREG A. KING Defendant.



         United States Magistrate Judge John H. Rich III filed his Recommended Decision (ECF No. 30) with the Court on September 17, 2019, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.A. § 636(b)(1)(B) (West 2019) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), regarding Defendant Greg A. King's motion to dismiss the complaint (ECF No. 17).[1] King filed his objections to the Recommended Decision's proposed denial of the Motion to Dismiss.


         The Recommended Decision noted that King's argument for dismissal was “unclear” but interpreted his filing as a challenge to the Court's subject-matter jurisdiction, “given his extensive discussion of jurisdiction.” ECF No. 30 at 1. The Recommended Decision examined the Plaintiff's supporting documentation attached to its complaint and found that it had met its burden of demonstrating diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).

         I have reviewed and considered the Magistrate Judge's Recommended Decision, together with the entire record and King's objections, and I have made a de novo determination of all matters adjudicated by the Magistrate Judge's Recommended Decision. I concur with the recommendations of the United States Magistrate Judge for the reasons set forth in his Recommended Decision and determine that no further proceeding is necessary.


         I now turn to King's objections to the extent they make out new, unaddressed arguments. I read King's objections to assert the following three arguments: (1) that the Magistrate Judge had a conflict of interest; (2) that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over King; (3) and that the Plaintiff's complaint lacks sufficient evidence.[2]

         A. Conflict of Interest

         King asserts that Magistrate Judge Rich should have recused himself because he had a conflict of interest, stemming from his possible membership in the same bar association as the Plaintiff's attorneys. The objection is unfounded, and disqualification of Magistrate Judge Rich is not warranted because a judge's membership in a bar association does not, standing alone, call into question the judge's impartiality. “Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” 28 U.S.C.A. § 455(a) (West 2019). However, “disqualification is appropriate only if the facts provide what an objective, knowledgeable member of the public would find to be a reasonable basis for doubting the judge's impartiality.” In re United States, 666 F.2d 690, 695 (1st Cir. 1981). Mere accusations of partiality do not suffice:

No permissible reading of subsection 455(a) would suggest that Congress intended to allow a litigant to compel disqualification simply on unfounded innuendo concerning the possible partiality of the presiding judge. Indeed, “[a] trial judge must hear cases unless some reasonable factual basis to doubt the impartiality of the tribunal is shown by some kind of probative evidence.”

El Fenix de P.R. v. M/Y JOHANNY, 36 F.3d 136, 140 (1st Cir. 1994) (emphasis in original) (footnote omitted) (quoting Blizard v. Frechette, 601 F.2d 1217, 1221 (1st Cir. 1979)).

         A judge's membership in a bar association is “not indicative of partiality or prejudice” against an unrepresented party. Cagle v. United States, No. 3:15-cv-0350-J-20JBT, 2017 WL 6365897, at *1 (M.D. Fla. June 7, 2017); see also Denardo v. Municipality of Anchorage, 974 F.2d 1200, 1201 (9th Cir. 1992) (“The fact that a plaintiff sues a bar association does not require recusal of judges who are members of that bar association.” (citing Pilla v. Am. Bar Ass'n, 542 F.2d 56, 57-58 (8th Cir. 1976))). Therefore, disqualification of the Magistrate Judge is not warranted.

         B. Personal Jurisdiction

         King next objects that the Court does not have personal jurisdiction over him. “In the ordinary course, the district court acquires jurisdiction over a defendant only by service of process.” Jardines Bacata, Ltd. v. Diaz-Marquez,878 F.2d 1555, 1559 (1st Cir. 1989); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(k)(1). “Pursuant to Rule 4(e)(1), service of process on an individual within the District of Maine is governed by Maine law.” Elektra Entm't Grp., Inc. v. Carter, 618 F.Supp.2d 89, 92-93 (D. Me. 2009) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(e)(1) and M & K Welding, Inc. v. Leasing Partners, LLC, 386 F.3d 361, 364 (1st Cir. 2004)). Here, personal service of the summons and complaint was made ...

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