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Reserve Mining Co. v. Lord

Citation: 6 ELR 20432
No. No. 75-1867, 529 F.2d 181/8 ERC 1511/(8th Cir., 01/06/1976) Recusal granted

The court directs the Army Corps of Engineers to furnish safe drinking water for the Minnesota communities affected by asbestos particles from Reserve's taconite discharges into Lake Superior and removesDistrict Judge Lord from the case for judicial bias and deliberate disregard of the initial appellate mandate to that effect. The prior decision of the court, Reserve Mining Co. v. EPA, 514 F.2d 492, 5 ELR 20596 (8th Cir. 1975), held that Reserve's discharges constituted a demonstrable, though not imminent, nuisance. That decision's mandate to the Corps to provide drinking water for Duluth is reaffirmed, since the Corps is the most efficient and responsible unit that can provide proper water filtration. In view of the extensive federal jurisdiction over and participation in this controversy, transfer of water filtration duties to local officials would be inappropriate.

Recusal of a judge is an extraordinary remedy, and will not be employed for good faith mistakes of judgment or misapplication of law. However, in this case, the district judge overstepped the bounds of judicial impartiality. He assumed an advocate's role by calling and interrogating witnesses, announcing that Reserve's witnesses could not be believed, and assessing a $100,000 deposit against Reserve for the cost of filtering Duluth's drinking water without observing the most rudimentary procedures. In addition, the district judge ignored the appellate court's holding that he had no jurisdiction over state administrative proceedings by attempting to influence state officials' decisions regarding the land disposal site for Reserve's discharge. Even though Reserve has not requested removal of the district judge, his deliberate denial of due process requires a remand to the jurisdiction of the Chief Judge of the District of Minnesota, Cascade Natural Gas Corp. v. El Paso Natural Gas Co., 386 U.S. 129 (1967), for assignment of the case to another district judge.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (7 pp. $1.00 ELR Order No. C-1034).

For counsel, see 4 ELR 20573-74.

per curiam, en banc.

[OPINION OMITTED BY PUBLISHER IN ORIGINAL SOURCE]