United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander United States District Judge
post-conviction matter, the Court addresses for the second
time a motion to recuse filed by the self-represented
Petitioner, Manoj Kumar Jha. See ECF 217. It is
titled “Second Motion For Judge Hollander's Recusal
And Disqualification” (the “Second
Motion”). Id. The government opposes the
Second Motion. ECF 225. Jha has filed a reply. ECF 229.
hearing is necessary to resolve the Second Motion.
See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I
shall deny the Second Motion.
former engineering professor, was initially indicted on
November 14, 2012 (ECF 1), on five counts of wire fraud, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343; mail fraud, in violation
of 18 U.S.C. § 1341; and falsification of records, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1519. Id. In a
Superseding Indictment filed on August 21, 2013 (ECF 49), a
charge of theft from a program receiving federal funds was
added, under 18 U.S.C. § 666. In addition, the
Superseding Indictment contained a forfeiture count, pursuant
to 18 U.S.C. § 982(a)(2)(A).
on March 18, 2014, the Court presided over a nine-day jury
trial. See ECF 100; ECF 101. At trial, more than 200
exhibits were introduced and over 30 witnesses were called to
testify. On April 1, 2014, the jury returned a verdict of
guilty as to all counts. ECF 118; ECF 119.
issues were contested in presentencing submissions with
regard to the calculation of the advisory sentencing
guideline range applicable to Jha. See ECF 124; ECF
131 (Defense); ECF 127 (Government). The Presentence Report
(“PSR, ” ECF 123) reflected that Jha had a total
offense level of 27 and a criminal history category of I,
with an advisory sentencing guidelines range of 70 to 87
months of imprisonment.
was held on August 29, 2014. ECF 134. The Government
initially requested a 78-month sentence, based on its belief
that Jha had an offense level of 27, with guidelines of 70-87
months. See ECF 127 (Government's sentencing
memorandum) at 3. However, I concluded that Jha had a final
offense level of 25. Based on a final offense level of 25 and
a criminal history category of I, the advisory sentencing
guidelines range called for a period of incarceration of 57
to 71 months. In light of the Court's ruling, finding an
offense level of 25, the government sought a sentence of 65
months' incarceration. See ECF 158 at 78.
my characterization of the government's recommendation as
“reasonable” (id.), and notwithstanding
the defendant's reprehensible conduct (id. at
88), I awarded a substantial downward variance to Jha.
Id. at 90-92. In particular, I sentenced Jha to
concurrent terms of 36 months' incarceration and ordered
restitution in the amount of $105, 726.31. The term of
incarceration was obviously well below the low end
of the advisory guidelines range and well below the
65-month sentence that the government requested.
was entered on September 11, 2014. See ECF 137. In
the Statement of Reasons (ECF 183), to explain my leniency in
imposing a variant sentence, I stated that Jha is “an
immigrant, a scholar and a professor [who] has helped many
minority students . . . to his credit.” Id. at
3. I also pointed out that Jha's “career is ruined,
” noting that he “had to resign in
the defendant noted an appeal to the Fourth Circuit. ECF 135.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
affirmed the defendant's convictions on June 4, 2015, in
an unpublished, per curiam opinion. ECF 163. The mandate
issued on June 26, 2015. ECF 164. See United States v.
Jha, 613 Fed.Appx. 212 (4th Cir. 2015).
subsequently filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the
United States Supreme Court. See ECF 162-2. The
Supreme Court denied Jha's certiorari petition on October
13, 2015. ECF 166 at 9; ECF 171 at 2; see Jha v. United
States, 136 S.Ct. 349 (2015). On November 6, 2015, Jha
filed a petition for rehearing in the Supreme Court.
See ECF 166-4. That petition was denied on December
7, 2015. ECF 166 at 9; ECF 171 at 2; see Jha v. United
States, 136 S.Ct. 611 (2015).
February 25, 2016, Jha filed “Fed. R. Crim. P. 33
Motion To Vacate The Judgment of Conviction, Sentence And
Restitution, And Order A New Trial” (ECF 166,
“Rule 33 Motion”), along with numerous exhibits.
By Memorandum (ECF 173) and Order (ECF 174) of June 13, 2016,
I denied the Rule 33 Motion. Thereafter, Jha noted an appeal
to the Fourth Circuit. ECF 175. In a per curiam opinion
issued November 22, 2016, the Fourth Circuit affirmed. ECF
185. On January 24, 2017, the Fourth Circuit denied Jha's
petition for rehearing. ECF 191. The mandate issued on
February 1, 2017. ECF 192.
interim, on October 14, 2016, while the appeal was pending as
to this Court's disposition of the Rule 33 Motion, Jha
filed a petition to vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
See ECF 180. And, he filed motions to supplement the
petition on October 14, 2016 (ECF 181) and February 8, 2017
(ECF 193). I granted those motions in an Order of February
24, 2017. ECF 199. The government filed its opposition to the
§ 2255 petition on May 30, 2017 (ECF 207), to which Jha
replied on June 23, 2017. ECF 209. Thereafter, in a filing on
July 13, 2017 (ECF 211), Jha sought a stay of the § 2255
petition, advising that he was pursuing certiorari in the
Supreme Court as to the Fourth Circuit's ruling of