There was Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. DOM, Star Wars Nerd (SWN) could tell you that and more. We puzzled over what to name this post, the last two movie titles being most apropos. Instead we went with another pun on the SDFL Judge who is rapidly becoming our favourite.
When we last left Judge Middlebrooks, minding his own business in WPB, doing what federal judges do, he had been assigned the political hot potato of Trump v. Clinton. As he geared up for the case management orders that we hear flood in on civil cases, he was asked to recuse himself because be was appointed during the presidency of William Jefferson Clinton. Bill Clinton is married to Hillary Clinton, defendant herein, therefore any non-vaccinated person storming the capitol could connect the dots.
But in stepped Judge M, with a well-reasoned order DENYING the motion to recuse, and in the most judicial way possible, calling the plaintiff in the case a moron. We are hard on judges, rightfully so. But when a judge does something we could never do, like write an order like this, we throw up our hands in surrender. We are bested. We could never have written this.
Our favourite part? There are so many. There is this slap to the head footnote:
3 I note that Plaintiff filed this lawsuit in the Fort Pierce division of this District, where only one federal judge sits: Judge Aileen Cannon, who Plaintiff appointed in 2020. Despite the odds, this case landed with me instead. And when Plaintiff is a litigant before a judge that he himself appointed, he does not tend to advance these same sorts of bias concerns. See, e.g., Donald J. Trump v. Wisc. Elections Comm’n, No. 20-cv-1785 (E.D. Wis. 2020) (Judge Brett Ludwig); Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., et al., v. Sec. of Commonwealth of Pa., No. 20-cv-3371 (3d Cir. 2020) (Judge Stephanos Bibas); Comm. on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives v. U.S. Dep’t of the Treasury, No. 19-cv-01974 (D.D.C. 2019) (Judge Trevor McFadden).
There was this judicious footnote that one of the four cases cited in the motion to recuse actually supports the conclusion that Judge M should not recuse himself:
4 In the first case he cites, Hamm v. Members of Bd. of Regents of Fla., the Eleventh Circuit held that a district court judge did not exhibit bias sufficient to warrant recusal based on certain statements he made at trial. See 709 F.2d 647, 651 (11th Cir. 1983) (“This is not a case in which the judge openly exhibited ‘a partisan zeal’ for the defendants or ‘stepped down from the bench to assume the role of advocate’ on the defendants’ behalf.”); see also Davis v. Bd. of Sch. Com’rs of Mobile Cnty, 517 F.2d 1044, 1051 (11th Cir. 1975) (same). Neither case discussed whether judicial appointment by a party, without more, would cause a reasonable person to suspect bias on the part of the presiding judge. And Bivens Gardens emphasized that, to establish bias justifying disqualification, a party must demonstrate “such pervasive bias and prejudice that it constitutes bias against a party”—a showing that certainly has not been made here. 140 F.3d 898, 914 (11th Cir. 1998).
Quite frankly we would have written: "Hey! Idiot- try reading cases before you cite them in a motion." But then again, we do not possess the judicial wisdom and temperament of Judge M.
And there was this concluding peroration:
When I became a federal judge, I took an oath to “faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all duties . . . under the Constitution and laws of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 453. I have done so for the last twenty-five years, and this case will be no different.
Wow! Well Done Judge Middlebrooks! Well Done Indeed!.
The full order