Denny Walsh's piece in the Sacramento Bee tonight reports on the latest legal skirmishes in the Moonlight Wildfire civil case, including the government's motion to recuse lawyers for Sierra Pacific Industries after they leveled misconduct allegations against the EDCA U.S. Attorney's Office. What I found most interesting is this excerpt explaining that 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski rejected EDCA Chief Judge England's order recusing the entire EDCA district court bench:
The case has caused some upheaval in the operation of Sacramento’s federal court.
After Sierra Pacific filed the motion to throw out the settlement, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller asked to be removed from the case, which she’d been presiding over for nearly four years.
As a consequence, Chief U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. wrote an order recusing every judge in the Sacramento-based Eastern District of California and asking Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, to appoint an out-of-district judge.
But Kozinski refused, noting that the circuit court’s policy is to not bring in a judge from another district unless there is both an order recusing the judge assigned to the case and a certification from the district’s chief judge that every judge in the jurisdiction has been offered the case and refused to take it.
Mueller then wrote an order recusing herself.
Some of her fellow judges were unhappy that she dropped the case and have vented their feelings in emails circulated among the justices.
The case is now in the hands of U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb, the district’s senior judge. He has scheduled a status conference for Monday.