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Archived updates for Thursday, August 03, 2006

Reassignment on Remand Required in Seventh Circuit

In Eolas Technologies, Inc., et al. v. Microsoft Corp. (July 28, 2006) the Federal Circuit applied Seventh Circuit Rule 36 to the question of reassignment on remand in order to reverse the district court’s denial of Microsoft’s motion to reassign the case to a different Judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. According to Circuit Judge rader:
The Seventh Circuit appears unique among the circuit courts of appeals
because it sets forth its law on judicial reassignment in the form of a rule. .
. . The Seventh Circuit rule makes reassignment the norm, unless our sister
circuit alters the default rule with an express assignment back to the same
judge. "The purpose of Rule 36 is to avoid, on retrial after reversal, any bias
or mindset the judge may have developed during the first trial." Cange v. Sotler
and Co., 913 F.2d 1204 (7th Cir. 1990) (emphases added). Because the operation
of Rule 36 avoids "any bias or mindset" that "may have developed," the law of
the Seventh Circuit differs from that of other circuits. See, e.g., Procter
& Gamble Co. v. Haugen, 427 F.3d 727, 744 (10th Cir. 2005) ("[W]e will
remand with instructions for assignment of a different judge only when there is
proof of personal bias or under extreme circumstances."). . . .

Because Rule 36 applies on remand after the Eolas I decision, this court
need not examine the applicability of LR 40.5 to this case. Nonetheless, the
district court relied heavily on LR 40.5, therefore this court will briefly
address that reasoning. In Eolas I, this court noted that "the district court
may reconsider its findings" on remand. 399 F.3d at 1336. That statement
addressed "the district court," not any particular judge representing that
court. In other words, this court did not use that language to signal a decision
to depart from Circuit Rule 36, or LR 40.5, to the extent the latter applies.
While courts often interchange loosely terms like "the judge" and "the court,"
the district court itself is not literally synonymous with the presiding
district court judge. Thus, the same district court, here the District Court for
the Northern District of Illinois, may "reconsider" an issue even though a
different judge supplied the initial consideration. Any discussion of
reassignment necessarily must distinguish between an individual judge and the
court itself. This court’s statement did not signal any departure from the
Seventh Circuit rule by referring only to "the district court."

Wow, the Seventh Circuit even has an RSS feed.
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August 04, 2006 7:26 AM  

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