United States District Court, D. Maryland
E.V. DRAKE, Plaintiff
TRAVELERS INDEMNITY COMPANY, et al Defendants
L. HOLLANDER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
self-represented plaintiff, E.V. Drake, filed a Complaint on
September 18, 2019, approximately 80 pages in length. ECF 1.
The Complaint names numerous defendants, including President
Donald J. Trump, Vice President Michael Pence, Melania Trump,
Karen Pence, the spouses of several Supreme Court Justices,
the spouses of several judges of the United States District
Court for the Eastern District of Texas, as well as Travelers
Indemnity Co. and other defendants that appear to be Texas
corporations or Texas government entities.
alleges, inter alia, that he “possesse[s]
gifts of foresight . . . . [and] has predicted the majority
of his close family members [sic] death, and has even
described the day of their funerals before the event took
place. These were not guesses, but a true gift bestowed upon
Plaintiff by the Almighty.” ECF 1 at 12. He predicts
two coming disasters: an earthquake in California and
hurricanes in the Gulf Coast and East Coast. Id. at
11. Further, plaintiff alleges that he contacted the
President and the Vice-President and their wives regarding
his predictions and his ability to foresee the future, but
they took no action. Id. As a result, plaintiff
maintains that the United States suffered the worst
hurricanes in the history of the country as well as the wild
fires in California. Id. at 14. Plaintiff contends
there is time to avert the other disasters he has foreseen
and that it is negligence, a breach of duty, a violation of
due process, and the intentional infliction of emotional
distress for the President, Vice-President, and their wives
to fail to meet with plaintiff and prepare for his
predictions. Id. at 15-22, 75.
plaintiff asserts that the administration “has failed
the American people . . . .” Id. at 19. He
states: “The rejection of spiritual gifts by
nonbelievers is not something uncommon but to be provided
with information that American lives are at risk, as
commander in chief and failed to take some action to at least
investigate the matter is a breach of duties.”
Id. at 18-19.
plaintiff alleges that the federal judges in the Eastern
District of Texas acted improperly in denying motions
plaintiff filed in another case, and in entering orders in
that case. ECF 1 at 58. He also claims that state and federal
judges harbor racial bias and intentionally harmed him as a
result of action taken in his other case. Id. at 66.
Moreover, he seeks declaratory relief against several of the
judges and he asks that they be enjoined from hearing any of
his cases. Id. at 67- 69.
allegations are included in the Discussion.
has also filed a motion seeking my recusal. ECF 2. He claims
that I have conspired with the Clerk of the Court to withhold
the issuance of summonses. Id. at 4. He cites 28
U.S.C. § 144 and § 455. Id. at
has paid the filing fee. And, the Court is mindful of its
obligation to construe liberally the filings of a pro se
litigant, which are held to less stringent standards than
filings drafted by an attorney. See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); see also White v.
White, 886 F.2d 721, 722-23 (4th Cir. 1989).
Nevertheless, this Court may dismiss a complaint, or portions
of a complaint, sua sponte, where the matters asserted are
plainly frivolous. Smith v. Kagan, 616 Fed.Appx. 90
(4th Cir. 2015); see also Chong Su Yi v. Soc. Sec.
Admin., 554 Fed.Appx. 247, 248 (4th Cir. 2014) (same);
Ross v. Baron, 493 Fed.Appx. 405, 406 (4th Cir.
2012) (same). Notably, “dismissal prior to service of
process is permissible when a Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over a patently frivolous complaint.”
Smith, 616 Fed.Appx. at 90; Chong Su Yi,
554 Fed.Appx. at 248 (same); Ross, 493 Fed.Appx. at
hearing is necessary to resolve the recusal motion. Local
Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall deny the
recusal motion; I shall dismiss the Complaint in part; and I
shall transfer the remainder of the suit to the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
The Recusal Motion
455 of 28 U.S.C. is titled “Disqualification of
justice, judge, or magistrate judge.” Under § 455,
the judge whose objectivity is being challenged by a motion
to recuse is the one who should first review the matter and
render the disqualification decision.
455(a) focuses on the appearance of impropriety. It states:
“Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United
States shall disqualify [herself] in any proceeding in which
[her] impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” The
test “embodies an objective standard” and asks
“whether an objective, disinterested, lay observer
fully informed of the facts . . . would entertain a
significant doubt about a judge's impartiality.”
Parker v. Connors Steel Co., 855 F.2d 1510, 1524
(11th Cir. 1988). The provision is intended to promote
confidence in the judiciary. Liljeberg v. Health Serv.
Acquisition Corp., 486 U.S. 847, 865 (1988).
Supreme Court has noted, § 455(a) “deals with the
objective appearance of partiality.”
Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 553 n.2
(1994) (emphasis in Liteky). Disqualification is
required “only if it appears that [a judge] harbors an
aversion, hostility or disposition of a kind that a fair
minded person could not set aside when judging the
dispute.” Id. at 558. This objective standard
includes not only actual impartiality, but also the
appearance of impartiality. See United States v.
Carmichael, 726 F.2d 158, 160 (4th Cir. 1984). In other
words, “[t]he inquiry is whether a reasonable person
would have a reasonable basis for questioning the judge's
impartiality, not whether the judge is in fact
impartial.” In re Beard, 811 F.2d 818, 827
(4th Cir. 1987) (internal citation omitted).
a “presiding judge is not . . . required to recuse
[herself] simply because of ‘unsupported, irrational or
highly tenuous speculation.'” United States v.
Cherry, 330 F.3d 658, 665 (4th Cir. 2003) (quoting
United States v. DeTemple, 162 F.3d 279, 287 (4th
Cir. 1998)). Rather, “[t]he alleged bias must derive
from an extra-judicial source [and] . . . result in an
opinion on the merits on a basis other than that learned by
the judge from [her] participation in the matter.”
In re Beard, 811 F.2d at 827 (emphasis added);
see Shaw v. Martin, 733 F.2d 304, 308 (4th Cir.
1984). Simply put, “[t]he proper test to be applied is
whether another with knowledge of all of the circumstances
might reasonably question the judge's
impartiality.” In re Beard, 811 F.2d at 827.
28 U.S.C. § 455(b) enumerates circumstances in which a
federal judge “shall” disqualify herself, because
partiality is presumed. See Richard K. Neumann, Jr.,
Conflicts Of Interest In Bush v. Gore: Did Some
Justices Vote Illegally?, 16 Geo. J. Legal Ethics
375 at 5 (Spring 2003). For example, § 455(b)(5)(iii)
states that a judge shall recuse herself if she has “an
interest that could be substantially ...