United States District Court, D. Minnesota
HOWARD G. JACKSON, Plaintiff,
DAVID OSSELL and MELISSA GUNDERSON, Defendants.
G. Jackson, pro se plaintiff.
Stephen J. Christie, for Defendant David Ossell.
ORDER ON MOTION FOR RECUSAL
R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE
Howard G. Jackson brought this action against Defendants
David Ossell, Melissa Gunderson and the Ramsey County Human
Services Department. The Ramsey County Human Services
Department was subsequently dismissed from this action. (Am.
Order, Apr. 30, 2018, Docket No. 17.) The claims against
Ossell and Gunderson in their official capacities were also
dismissed. (Id.) The only remaining claim is one
based on 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and is brought against Ossell
and Gunderson in their individual capacities. Jackson alleges
that Ossell and Gunderson violated his Fourth Amendment right
to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
(See Compl. at 3, Dec. 18, 2017, Docket No. 1; Ex.,
Feb. 20, 2018, Docket No. 6.) Jackson seeks damages for
emotional harm. (Compl. at 4.)
before the Court is Jackson's Motion for Recusal of
Magistrate Judge Becky R. Thorson and Chief Judge John R.
Tunheim. (Mot. for Recusal at 3, March 1, 2019, Docket No.
90.) Jackson also seeks to have Defendants' attorneys
disqualified and removed from the case. (Id.)
Alternatively, Jackson seeks to change the venue.
(Id. at 4.) The Court will deny Jackson's Motion
in its entirety because Jackson has failed to show why he is
entitled to such actions.
alleges the following facts:
time in 2012, Jackson received full physical custody over his
daughter, N.E.W. (See Aff. of Howard G. Jackson
(“Jackson Aff.”) at 2, Sept. 5, 2018, Docket No.
48.) After receiving full custody of N.E.W., Jackson spoke to
his probation officer, M.B., about his receiving custody of
N.E.W. (Id. at 2-3.) M.B., unsure whether Jackson
could have full custody of N.E.W. due to a sex offense
committed by Jackson when he was a minor, informed Jackson
that he would be contacting the Ramsey County Human Services
Department (“Human Services”) to get the correct
answer. (Id. at 3-4.) Even after receiving full
custody of N.E.W., Jackson never had actual custody of her
because he never had the chance to get N.E.W. from her
mother. (Id. at 4.)
M.B. reported to Human Services, Jackson received a call from
Gunderson, a Human Services social worker, requesting to meet
at Jackson's apartment to talk about N.E.W. and whether
Jackson was fit to be a parent. (Id. at 6.) Jackson
declined to meet at his apartment. (Id.) Despite
this, Gunderson and Ossell came to Jackson's apartment
while he was out. (See Id. at 18.) Gunderson and
Ossell informed the landlord of Jackson's apartment, Greg
Mach, that they needed to check within Jackson's
apartment. (Id. at 9.) Mach asked if they had a
warrant, and they responded that they did not have one.
(Id.) Mach then declined to let them into the
apartment. (Id.) Gunderson and Ossell then informed
Mach that they would leave to get a warrant, and that Mach
could get into trouble should there be a child in danger
within the apartment. (See id.) Mach then allowed
Gunderson and Ossell into Jackson's apartment without
Jackson's consent and without a warrant. (Id. at
later returned to his apartment and discovered that the lock
on his door had been changed. (Id. at 11.) When
Jackson asked Mach why the locks had been changed, Mach
explained that he was evicting Jackson because Gunderson and
Ossell told him that Jackson was a registered sex offender.
(Id. at 12.) Eventually, however, Mach agreed not to
evict Jackson. (Id. at 13.)
next day, Jackson went to see Gunderson at her office.
(Id. at 14.) When Jackson asked Gunderson why she
and Ossell went to his apartment, she looked lost.
(Id. at 16.) Jackson was informed that N.E.W. had
already been placed on hold, and had a scheduled hearing in
front of a court. (Id. at 17; Mot. to Am. Compl.,
Ex. 1, Oct. 26, 2018, Docket No. 53-1.) At the hearing,
Jackson explained the circumstances of Ossell and
Gunderson's visit to his home, but the court decided that
because he is a registered sex offender, he could not have
custody of N.E.W. (Jackson Aff. at 18-20.)
filed two CDs with the Court. (Notice of Evidence
(“First CD”), March 29, 2018, Docket No. 11-1;
Notice (“Second CD”), Apr. 25, 2018, Docket No.
14-2.) The first CD contains an audio file of a discussion
between Jackson and a Child Welfare employee. (First CD.)
Jackson asks why Child Welfare intervened despite a nine-year
gap between his last offense and the date Jackson received
custody of N.E.W. (Id.) The employee explained that
Child Welfare Services is statutorily obligated to make those
reports. (Id.) Jackson then asked why “you
guys”-presumably Child Welfare-went to his house
without permission. (Id.) The employee was unable to
answer this question because she was not present during the
incident. (Id.) When pressed, the employee offered
that, had she been in the same situation, she would not have
entered Jackson's house. (Id.)
second CD also contained an audio file. (Second CD.) This
audio file contains a discussion between Jackson and Judy
Hanson, an attorney for the Saint Paul City Attorney's
office who was representing Ossell. (Id.) In the
discussion, Jackson says that he received a letter from the
Saint Paul City Attorney's Office. (Id.) It
arrived after a deadline to respond to the letter.
(Id.) The envelope carrying the letter was addressed
to 1350 Saint Clair, even though that was not Jackson's
residence, but the letter itself contained Jackson's
correct address at Emerson Avenue. (Id.) Hanson
explained that her secretary might have made a mistake and
that the 1350 Saint Clair address was the one listed on
Jackson's Complaint. (Id.) Hanson then went on
to explain that she would be filing a motion to dismiss, and
needed to have a discussion with Jackson before doing so.
MOTION FOR RECUSAL
moves to have the Court and Magistrate Judge Thorson removed
from this case. A court should recuse from a matter if the
Court's “impartiality might reasonably be
questioned.” 28 U.S.C. § 455. The Court should
recuse if it is shown that the Court has a personal bias or
prejudice arising from an extrajudicial source. Rossbach
v. United States, 878 F.2d 1088, 1089 (8th
Cir. 1989) (citing United States v. Jones, 801 F.2d
304, 312 (8th Cir. 1986)); see also Liteky v.
United States, 510 U.S. 540, 551 (1994) (extrajudicial
source is not the only basis for establishing disqualifying
bias or prejudice, but is the most common basis). Judicial
rulings alone almost never constitute a valid basis for a
bias or partiality motion for disqualification.
Liteky, 510 U.S. at 555.