United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
STEPHEN P. WALLACE, Plaintiff,
JOHN BAYLOUNY, Defendants.
C. CACHERIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on pro se Plaintiff
Stephen P. Wallace’s three motions: (1) motion to
vacate the Court’s March 29, 2016 order granting his
motion to stay; (2) motion to stay the case; and (3) motion
to disqualify the undersigned Judge from presiding over this
case. (Pl.’s Vacate Mot. [Dkt. 17].) The Court
exercises its authority under Local Civil Rule 7(J) to rule
upon the motions without oral argument. For the following
reasons, the Court will deny the motions.
January 2016, pro se Plaintiff Stephen P. Wallace
(“Wallace”) filed a three-page complaint and
accompanying exhibits alleging tortious interference with
contract and “conspiracy to circumvent plaintiffs [sic]
beneficial interest.” (Compl. [Dkt. 1].) Construing the
complaint liberally,  Wallace alleges that in 2012 he was
authorized to procure investors for Vision Technologies, Inc.
If he was successful, Vision Technologies agreed to pay
Wallace and another agent “origination fees” of
three percent each of any investments they procured for
Vision Technologies. Wallace contends that he is entitled to
such a fee for an investment from Virginia-based defense
contractor DRS Technologies that he originated.
names three DRS employees as Defendants (collectively
“Defendants”). He alleges Defendants and Vision
Technologies employees “covertly conspired in collusion
to ‘Tortuously Interfere & Circumvent’
PLAINTIFFS ‘Rights Granted Under the
CONTRACT’, made Public & Acquiesced to All
Parties.” (Compl. ¶ 6 (all errors and formatting
contained in original).)
February 22, 2016, Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint
with prejudice for failure to state a claim. (Mot. to Dismiss
[Dkt. 5].) On March 9, 2016, Wallace filed a two page
memorandum and several exhibits in opposition to the motion
to dismiss. (Pl.’s Mem. in Opp’n [Dkt. 12].)
Defendants replied on March 14, 2016. (Defs.’ Reply
March 25, 2016, Wallace moved for a sixty day stay to permit
him time to retain counsel. (Pl.’s Stay Mot. [Dkt.
15].) Wallace stated that a law firm had requested forty-five
days to review his case to determine whether the firm would
represent Wallace. (Id. ¶ 2.) This Court
granted the motion, staying the pending motion to dismiss and
scheduling a status conference on May 12, 2016.
Court explained its reasoning for granting the stay in a
written Order (“Order” or “Stay
Order”). (See Stay Order [Dkt. 16].) The Order
began by noting facts that weighed against granting a stay.
First, the Court expressed its concern that Wallace had not
diligently pursued representation, as the exhibits attached
to Wallace’s Complaint disclosed that he became aware
of the circumstances underlying his claim as early as October
2012. (See Compl. Exs. [Dkt. 1-1] at 9.) Other
exhibits disclosed that Wallace refused at least two offers
of representation because the attorneys would not agree to
contingency fee or pro bono representation.
(See Compl. Exs. at 20-27; Pl.’s Mem. in
Opp’n ¶ 7(b).) Second, the Court cited three
opinions from Wallace’s prior pro se cases in
which he was reprimanded for “abusive litigious
behavior and dilatory tactics.” (Stay Order at 2.) The
Court balanced those facts with the reasons for granting the
stay, including the recent request of a law firm for
forty-five days to review the case, and the interest in
facilitating Wallace’s effort to clearly present his
case to the Court so as to achieve a just resolution.
(Id. at 2-3.) With those factors in mind, the Court
granted Wallace’s stay until May 12, 2016, to allow
Wallace time to retain counsel. (Id.) The Court
ordered parties to appear for a status conference on that
five weeks after the Court entered its Order and one week
before the scheduled status conference, Wallace filed the
present motions to disqualify the undersigned from presiding
over this case, to vacate the stay order, and to stay the
case. Wallace failed to appear at the May 12, 2016 status
conference. The Court will deny Wallace’s
motions and return this case to active status.
Court will first address Wallace’s motion to
disqualify, then the motion to vacate, followed by the motion
to stay. As described below, the Court will deny each motion.
Motion to Disqualify
argues that the Court’s Order granting his motion to
stay demonstrates the need for disqualification under 28
U.S.C. § 455 for the following three reasons: (1) the
Court “intentionally misrepresents” facts within
the Order; (2) the Court cited three prior cases sanctioning
or enjoining Wallace due to his pro se filings; and
(3) the Court is part of a “silent coalition” of
judges that are adverse to Wallace. As described below, none
of those arguments justifies disqualification.
federal judge “shall disqualify himself in any
proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be
questioned, ” 28 U.S.C. § 455(a), or where
“he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a
party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts
concerning the proceedings, ” § 455(b)(1).
Disqualification is required if a reasonable factual basis
exists for doubting a judge’s impartiality. People
Helpers Found., Inc. v. City of Richmond, 12 F.3d 1321,
1325 (4th Cir. 1993). To require disqualification, the
judge’s alleged bias or prejudice generally must
“result in an opinion on the merits [of a case] on some
basis other than what the judge learned from his
participation in the case.” Belue v.
Leventhal, 640 F.3d 567, 573 (4th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 545 n.1
(1994)). Thus, “judicial rulings and ‘opinions
formed by the judge on the basis of facts introduced or
events occurring in the course of the current proceedings, or
prior proceedings’ almost ‘never constitute a
valid basis for a bias or partiality motion.’”
Id. (quoting Liteky, 510 U.S. at 555).
Similarly, “judicial remarks that are ‘critical
or disapproving of, or even hostile to, counsel, the parties,
or their cases, ordinarily do not support a bias or
partiality challenge.’” Id. (quoting
Liteky, 510 U.S. at 555). Ultimately a ...