Submitted: June 8, 2017
from United States District Court for the Western District of
Missouri - Jefferson City
LOKEN, MURPHY, and MELLOY, Circuit Judges.
period of years Matthew Akins had numerous encounters with
police officers in Columbia, Missouri, and in 2015 Akins
filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The
defendants are five police officers, three prosecutors, the
city of Columbia, and Boone County (collectively the
defendants). Akins alleges numerous violations of his
constitutional rights arising from these encounters. The
district court granted a motion to dismiss by some of the
defendants and a motion for summary judgment by others. The
court also denied Akins' motion for partial summary
judgment and two motions seeking recusal of the judge
assigned to his case. Akins appeals, and we affirm.
2010 and 2013 Matthew Akins had many encounters with law
enforcement officers who worked for the Columbia Police
Department (CPD) in Columbia, Missouri. Some of these
interactions resulted in charges filed against Akins by
prosecutors for Boone County, Missouri; many were
subsequently dismissed. Akins suggests that he was targeted
by police and prosecutors in part because he had been working
to document and report on police conduct through a group
called Citizens for Justice (CFJ) which he had formed in
Akins filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging that his constitutional rights under the First,
Second, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments had been violated
by the defendants. Among other matters, Akins alleged that
his rights had been violated by (1) a stop at a sobriety
checkpoint in May 2010 resulting in his being arrested and
(2) a stop for a traffic violation in June 2010 resulting in
Akins being removed from his vehicle and handcuffed while his
vehicle was searched. Akins also alleged that the defendants
violated his rights by removing videos he had posted on the
CPD Facebook page, by ordering him to stop filming the filing
of a citizen complaint in the CPD lobby, and by posting in
the police department a flyer with information about him.
after initiating this lawsuit Akins filed a motion seeking
recusal of the district court judge assigned to the case. The
district court denied the motion. Thereafter, the court
granted a motion to dismiss filed by Boone County and the
individual prosecutor defendants. A request for
reconsideration of that decision by Akins was denied. He then
filed a second recusal motion which was also denied. The
individual police officer defendants and the city of Columbia
subsequently moved for summary judgment, and Akins moved for
partial summary judgment. The court granted the
defendants' motion, but denied that of Akins. On appeal
Akins argues that the district court erred by failing to
recuse herself and by granting the defendants' motions to
dismiss and for summary judgment.
first consider the district court's denial of Akins'
recusal motions before turning to the motions to dismiss and
for summary judgment.
argues that the district court erred, both by not
transferring his recusal motions to another judge and by her
denying them herself. Motions to recuse may be based on
either of two federal statutes, see 28 U.S.C.
§§ 144, 455, but under either statute the standard
is the same: "recusal is required if the judge bears a
bias or prejudice that might call into question his or her
impartiality, " United States v. Gamboa, 439
F.3d 796, 817 (8th Cir. 2006). We review recusal decisions
for abuse of discretion. United States v. Larsen,
427 F.3d 1091, 1095 (8th Cir. 2005).
first argues that the district court judge erred by ruling on
his recusal motions herself instead of assigning these
motions to another judge for disposition. In support of his
argument he ...