1. simply because the judge is agreeing with "defense counsel" does not mean he or she is biased.
2. simply because the judge is friendly with the "defense counsel" does not mean that he or she is biased.
3. simply because the judge tells you to sign a contract with additional terms you do not like does not mean the judge is biased.
You should ask yourself about the wisdom of representing yourself when all decisions seem to be going against your goals. It does not seem like you are effectively representing yourself. I would suggest seeking the help of an attorney. If you cannot afford one, then look for a pro-bono attorney.
You have also not specified what kind of matter this is. Is this a federal magistrate?
What do you mean by "defense counsel"? Is this related to a criminal matter or a civil matter?
It seems clear to me that you don't have a handle on the appropriate procedures for your case, and I reiterate that you should seek the help of a legal professional.
This does not constitute legal advice or the engagement of my services as an attorney.
I agree with Attorney Johnston. You are in an unfair fight. The case is apparently in federal court and you are doing yourself a disservice by trying to represent yourself. Please consider using the Avvo find a lawyer function to locate an attorney to consult with regarding this matter.
Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. The answer given is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for contacting an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction and obtaining legal advice from such an attorney.
A magistrate may not be “buddies” with your opposing counsel. If the magistrate had a relationship with your opposing counsel such that he would be biased or there would be the appearance of impropriety, the magistrate would ordinarily recuse himself. As there have been 4 telephone conferences in your case already with that magistrate and that opposing counsel, that tells me that the magistrate does not believe he has a relationship with opposing counsel that would create the appearance of impropriety or bias.
Some judicial officers are extremely sensitive to pro se litigants. They not only want to ensure that proceedings proceed in a fair manner, they want to ensure that there is the also the APPEARANCE that the proceeding is fair. Sometimes judges and lawyers can banter back and forth in a light hearted manner. This can happen even if the judge and lawyer have no prior experience with each other. However, they may not understand how light hearted bantering might be perceived by an unsophisticated litigant who is unfamiliar with the court system.
Although a judge may trust that his rulings are fair and unbiased, and although the judge may have completely neutral feelings about both the lawyer and the pro se litigant, if a litigant ( pro se or represented) does not feel they were treated fairly or heard by the court, it doesn’t matter if the proceeding was actually fair. The result is a sense of mistrust by the public towards the court system and that is unfortunate.
If the interactions you describe actually occurred, that might be an indication of bias. You could express your concerns and bring a motion before the judge and ask the judge to recuse himself. However, since he hasn’t already done so, most likely the judge would not think he was being biased. If the judge and opposing counsel have simply been insensitive, its possible by raising your concerns they will be more mindful of how innocent behaviors on their part impact you.
Not all individuals have the skills to wade through the court system and advocate for themselves in court without representation. I do not know what the subject matter is in your case. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you should look to see if there are any legal clinics in your area that can assist you at no charge or at a low charge with your case. If there are none, you might consider getting a consultation for the purpose of securing guidance on what should or should not be happening at this point in your case as a result of all these telephone conferences.
If you have the means, though, it does appear that you would benefit from representation and you should secure a lawyer in your geographic area that has experience in the issues that are before the court.