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The test for determining whether a judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned is

an objective one, and requires asking whether a disinterested observer fully informed of
the facts would entertain a significant doubt as to the judge's impartiality.

Bivens Gardens Office v. Barnett Banks of Florida, 140 F.3d 898, 912 (11th Cir.1998) (
citing Diversified Numismatics, Inc. v. City Of Orlando, 949 F.2d 382, 385 (11th
Cir.1991) and Parker v. Connors Steel Co., 855 F.2d 1510, 1524 (11th Cir.1988)); see
also Christo v. Padgett, 223 F.3d 1324, 1333 (11th Cir.2000) ( citing United States v.
Kelly, 888 F.2d 732, 744-45 (11th Cir.1989)). The intent underlying § 455(a) is “to
promote public confidence in the integrity of the judicial process” and “to promote
confidence in the judiciary by avoiding even the appearance of impropriety whenever
possible.” Liljeberg v. Health Services Corp., 486 U.S. 847, 860, 865, 108 S.Ct. 2194,
100 L.Ed.2d 855 (1988); see also Parker, 855 F.2d at 1523 ( quoting Liljeberg, 486 U.S.
at 860, 865, 108 S.Ct. 2194). Moreover, in light of the intent of the statute,
disqualification should be granted where a judge would harbor any doubt concerning
whether disqualification is appropriate. Parker, 855 F.2d at 1524 ( citing United States v.
Alabama, 828 F.2d 1532, 1540 (11th Cir.1987)). Thus, disqualification under § 455(a) is
possible where no actual partiality, bias or prejudice for or against a party exists.

The Applicable Law

[1] [2] Title 28 U.S.C. Section 455(a) requires a federal judge to disqualify
himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned. The
relevant inquiry “is not the reality of bias or prejudice but its appearance.” Liteky v.
United States, 510 U.S. 540, 548, 114 S.Ct. 1147, 127 L.Ed.2d 474 (1994). The standard
is “whether an objective, fully informed lay observer would entertain significant doubt
about the judge's impartiality.” Thomas v. Tenneco Packaging Co., Inc., 293 F.3d 1306,
1329 (11th Cir.2002) (citing Christo v. Padgett, 223 F.3d 1324, 1333 (11th Cir.2000)). In
other words, the relevant inquiry is “how things appear to the well-informed, thoughtful
and objective observer, rather than the hypersensitive, cynical, and suspicious person.”
United States v. Jordan, 49 F.3d 152, 156 (5th Cir.1995).

[3] [4] [5] Under Section 455(a), actual partiality or knowledge of the
disqualifyingcircumstances on the part of the judge is not required. United States v. Kelly,
888 F.2d 732, 744 (11th Cir.1989). “The duty of recusal applies equally before, during,
and after a judicial proceeding, whenever disqualifying circumstances become known to
the judge.” Id. The general rule is that “a federal judge should reach his own
determination [on recusal], without calling upon counsel to express their views.” Kelly,
888 F.2d at 745 (emphasis and citations omitted).

Disqualification based on the appearance of partiality is determined by application of an


objective test. Liteky, 510 U.S. at ----, 114 S.Ct. at 1153-1154; Lunde v. Helms, 29 F.3d
367, 370 (8th Cir.1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1155, 115 S.Ct. 1111, 130 L.Ed.2d 1076
(1995). The statute not only requires that the judge be subjectively confident in his
ability to be fair, but that there is no basis upon which an informed, rational and objective
observer could reasonably question a judge's impartiality. Bernard, 31 F.3d at 844;
Yagman v. Republic Insurance, 987 F.2d 622, 626 (9th Cir.1993). Accordingly, it is
crucial that the facts which might cause a reasonable observer to question impartiality
are identified. Liljeberg v. Health Services Acquisition Corp., 486 U.S. 847, 865, 108 S.Ct.
2194, 2205, 100 L.Ed.2d 855 (1988).
The purpose and suggested implementation of the above provisions have been summarized by several United
States Courts of Appeals. “Clearly, the goal of the judicial disqualification statute is to foster the appearance of
impartiality .... Because 28 U.S.C. § 455(a) focuses on the appearance of impartiality, as opposed to the
judge faced with a potential ground for disqualification ought to
existence in fact of any bias or prejudice, a
consider how his participation in a given case looks to the average person on the street.”
Potashnick v. Port City Construction Co., 609 F.2d 1101, 1111 (5th Cir.1980) (emphasis
in original), cert. den. 449 U.S. 820, 101 S.Ct. 78, 66 L.Ed.2d 22. “Under section 455(a),
the judge is under a continuing duty to ask himself what a reasonable person knowing all
the relevant facts would think about his impartiality. If there is a reasonable factual basis
for doubting the judge's impartiality, ... [he] should disqualify himself....” United States v.
Hines, 696 F.2d 722, 728 (10th Cir.1982), (quotes and cite omitted). “The test for
disqualification under 455(a) is an objective one: whether a reasonable person with
knowledge of all the facts would conclude that the judge's impartiality might reasonably
be questioned.” United States v. Nelson, 718 F.2d 315, 321 (9th Cir.1983); United States
v. Noble, 696 F.2d 231 (3d Cir.1982) cert. den., 462 U.S. 1118, 103 S.Ct. 3086, 77
L.Ed.2d 1348 (1983); see also, Zimmerman v. Rosenthal (In Re Pasco Tobacco Co.,
Inc.), 34 B.R. 295 (Bankr.E.D.Pa.1983).