In St. Clair Intellectual Property Consultants Inc. v. Matsushita Electronic Industrial Co., Ltd., C.A. No. 04-1436-LPS, C.A. No. 06-404-LPS (D. Del. Jun. 1, 2011), Judge Stark accepted the moving parties’ withdrawal of their Motion for Recusal.
Originally, the related cases had been assigned to Judge Stark in his capacity as a magistrate judge for discovery and ADR. Judge Stark had then conducted ADR-related conferences with the parties, some involving ex parte discussions about the merits of the case and the parties’ litigation strategies. Id. at 1-2.
As of June 2010, several items were outstanding: the parties had not consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge, “numerous case-dispositive motions” were pending, and there was uncertainty as to which district judge was available to preside at trial. Id. at 2. So Judge Stark stayed the cases and “directed the parties to provide the Court with their views as to how these cases should proceed” — including whether Judge Stark should recuse himself from presiding at trial as a district court judge due to his participation in ADR-related conferences as a magistrate judge. Id. at 2. One or more of the defendants felt that recusal was appropriate. Id. at 2-3.
In the meantime, on January 10, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided St. Clair Intellectual Property Consultants, Inc. v. Canon, Inc., Nos. 2009-1052, 2010-1137, 2010-1140 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 10, 2011), rejecting the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware’s construction of disputed claim terms in the same patents asserted in the related cases. Id. at 4.
As a result of the Federal Circuit’s decision, the parties in the related cases had agreed that the related cases’s posture had changed significantly enough to warrant withdrawal of the moving defendants’ Motion for Recusal. Id. at 5-6. Judge Stark accepted the moving parties’ withdrawal of their Motion for Recusal, noting that “a judge’s duty to not recuse when he or she need not do so is as strong an imperative as a judge’s duty to recuse in those limited situations in which recusal is warranted.” Id. at 8.