Penoza v. Berryhill, 091318 FED9, 17-35521

Docket Nº:17-35521
Party Name:KAREN PENOZA, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant-Appellee.
Judge Panel:Before: HAWKINS, McKEOWN, and W. FLETCHER, Circuit Judges. Hawkins, Circuit Judge, concurring in part and dissenting in part.
Case Date:September 13, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
FREE EXCERPT

KAREN PENOZA, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 17-35521

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

September 13, 2018

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

Argued and Submitted August 29, 2018

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington No. 2:15-cv-01825-RAJ Richard A. Jones, District Judge, Presiding

Before: HAWKINS, McKEOWN, and W. FLETCHER, Circuit Judges.

MEMORANDUM [*]

Karen Penoza appeals the district court's denial of her request that the district court order the recusal of her Social Security Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Ilene Sloan. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We review the district court's denial for abuse of discretion. Harman v. Apfel, 211 F.3d 1172, 1173 (9th Cir. 2000). We affirm.

On May 31, 2012, Penoza filed an application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits ("SSDI"), and on August 20, 2013 she filed an application for Supplemental Security Income Benefits ("SSI"). Both applications were denied. Penoza requested a hearing for reconsideration and on August 29, 2013, Penoza submitted materials to ALJ Sloan, including past decisions allegedly showing ALJ Sloan's bias against Penoza and similar claimants. ALJ Sloan denied Penoza's request for recusal and again denied SSDI and SSI benefits. Penoza appealed ALJ Sloan's decision to the Appeals Council ("AC"). The AC denied Penoza's request for review and rejected Penoza's bias-based recusal argument. Penoza sought judicial review of the ALJ's determination. The district court reversed the ALJ's denial of benefits, but denied Penoza's request to order the Commissioner to reassign her case to a different ALJ.

Penoza argues that the district court abused its discretion in denying her request for a reassignment order. We disagree. "ALJs and other similar quasi-judicial administrative officers are presumed to be unbiased." Rollins v. Massanari, 261 F.3d 853, 857 (9th Cir. 2001) (citation and quotation marks omitted). "This presumption can be rebutted by a showing of conflict of interest or some other...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP