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Mediation Judge being bias and partial against pro se plaintiff

New York, NY |

Can the Magistrate Mediation Judge be buddies with defense counsel? siding with them on everything we had a telephone conference and Judge did not know I was there and he said he doesn't know why I am not signing the contact that they have been more than fair yet they opposing counsel keeps deviating from the agreement and adding terms and conditions never agreed upon and the judge keeps telling me just to sign it. we have had 4 telephone conferences even when the attorney says he will make a change they don't and the judge is more than happy to look the other way. Can a Mediation judge be recused? when I complain that they didn't make the changes the judge says he can't force them to do anything. (even though they agreed to him to make such changes)

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Attorney answers 3


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.



To Attorney Glenn Johnston this is a civil matter and is a Federal Magistrate the other side agreed to make changes a b & c then they did not make these changes then the Judge did not care and played games then he told me if I do not sign right now he will send the case back on the docket for the Judge to rule I told him the other side had already agreed to make changes and he said he doesn't remember it then the other side said they I never said anything about these changes, then the attorney later admitted we discussed them then he said it would be unfair for him to make such changes even though they agreed to make such changes. Judge ordering me to sign now and telling me if I don't sign and Judge rules against me on SJ I could get nothing. what is your opinion on that?

Glenn Johnston

Glenn Johnston


Dear Asker - SJ means Summary Judgment. And it seems that you have been dealing with a Judge acting as a MEDIATOR to try to resolve the matter to AVOID the need for a trial. I am not familiar with the facts of the case, but it sounds like the mediator has decided he thinks that you are either needlessly avoiding a settlement or making unreasonable demands. I cannot give you advice with regard to how to proceed, but I state again that since this is a Federal matter, you should IMMEDIATELY contact an attorney to assist you, and advise the judge that you are requesting time to secure counsel to assist you in this matter. Find a lawyer IMMEDIATELY.



to attorney Johnston thank you your time however my question has not been answered if the opposing side agreed to make changes to the contract such as A. B. & C in front of the Mediation Magistrate Judge then doesn't the Defendant's counsel have a due diligence to make those changes that they agreed to make? That is what my question was solely about the ethical obligation.. the opposing side has deviated away from the contract and when I had then comply with some of the terms and conditions the opposing side says we bent over backwards to accommodate you.. I have contacted over 23 attorney's and not one is willing to take a case on contingency I cannot afford 500 a billable hour for 100x + hours.

Glenn Johnston

Glenn Johnston


Dear asker - the fact that more than 23 attorneys have refused to take your case on contingency says to me that your case likely lacks merit, or sufficient merit to signal that they should take the risk of assisting you. If a MEDIATOR judge, whose job is to act as a mediator to avoid wasting time on an unnecessary trial, is telling you that you should simply sign the agreement, then it sounds like all other parties to the mediation believe your demands to be either unreasonable or excessive or wasteful. As to your question about changes to the contract, a mediator is not given power to command an opposing party what to do, they are there to help the parties find common ground. Can the mediator force the other party to add those terms back into the contract? Probably not? Is opposing counsel ethically bound to do so? Probably not. It depends on the promises and conditions made during the mediation, and I suggest that you speak to the mediator. If you cannot afford an attorney, then seek assistance from a pro bono attorney through one of the city's legal clinics. You clearly need some assistance. One final note: Due Diligence simply means performing appropriate investigations of a business or person prior to signing a contract, so you are using this term incorrectly. Best of luck.


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.

Good Luck

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.

Good luck.

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