The opinion of the court was delivered by: Alfred M. Wolin, United States District Judge
In accordance with the Court's Memorandum Opinion filed herewith,
It is on this 1st day of May, 2002
ORDERED that the Court denies its own Order to Show Cause for recusal;
and it is further
ORDERED that the objections of those parties arguing that the Court
should recuse itself are overruled.
This matter has been pending before the Court for approximately three
years. Following a substantial delay during which plaintiffs re-pled
their complaint and the Court entertained two motions to dismiss, the
Court assumed direct control of case management from the United States
Magistrate Judge. A number of case management devices were put into
place, as reflected in the Orders posted upon the web site of the Court.
Among these were the establishment of lead and liaison counsel, a
committee for the independent dealers, a special master, a document
depository and an expedited schedule for discovery and briefing of a
motion to certify the matter as a class action.
At the beginning of his lawsuit, the Court notified counsel that its
son, Marc E. Wolin, Esquire, was then an associate at the law firm of
Carpenter Bennett and Morrissey, counsel to the national distributor
Mercedes-Benz USA. No party objected to the Court's continued involvement
in this matter on that ground. With this procedure, the Court was
following a practice of many years duration. Indeed, the Third Circuit
Court of Appeals has had the opportunity to rule on this issue where the
Carpenter Bennett firm appeared before this Court, finding no abuse of
discretion when the Court refused to recuse itself on the basis of Mr.
Wolin's association. Sandusky v. Sodexho USA, No. 94-5655, slip op. at
6-7 (3d Cir. May 24, 1995).
The occasion of the Order to Show Cause revisiting this issue is Mr.
Wolin's elevation to partner at Carpenter Bennett. The authority conceded
by all parties to be primarily relevant is 28 U.S.C. § 455(b), which
provides that a judge:
shall . . . disqualify himself in the following
(5) He or his spouse, or a person within the
third degree of relationship to either of them, or
the spouse of such person:
(iii) Is known by the judge to have an interest
that could be substantially affected by the ...