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United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

L. Lee WHITNUM, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Jane B. EMONS, Personally and in their Professional Capacity, Marylouise Schofield, Judge, Personally and in their Professional Capacity, John Whalen, States Attorney, Personally and in His Professional Capacity, Margaret Gerundo-Murkette, State of Connecticut Commission on Aging, Professional for Injunctive Purposes, Nancy Shaffer, State of Connecticut Commission on Aging, Professional for Injunctive Purposes, Pamela Toohey, State of Connecticut Commission on Aging, Professional for Injunctive Purposes, Kimberley Massey, State of Connecticut Commission on Aging, Personally and in Her Professional Capacity, Mathew Haine, Family Relations Staff, Angela Hanley, Family Relations Staff, Dorye Jackson, Family Relations Staff, Defendants-Appellees.


Decided: April 25, 2019

PRESENT: AMALYA L. KEARSE, ROSEMARY S. POOLER, RICHARD C. WESLEY, Circuit Judges. For Plaintiff-Appellant: L. Lee Whitnum, pro se, Greenwich, CT. For Defendants-Appellees: Alma Nunly, Assistant Attorney General (Philip Miller, Assistant Attorney General, on the brief) for George Jepsen, Attorney General, Hartford, CT.


Plaintiff-Appellant L. Lee Whitnum, proceeding pro se, appeals the district court’s December 21, 2017, order denying her motions to reopen, to “cite in” an additional party, and for recusal. We assume the parties’ familiarity with the underlying facts, the procedural history of the case, and the issues on appeal.

Whitnum’s motion to reopen is best construed as a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) motion, the denial of which we review for abuse of discretion. See Paddington Partners v. Bouchard, 34 F.3d 1132, 1140 (2d Cir. 1994). There was no abuse of discretion here.

We previously affirmed the district court’s 2015 and 2016 decisions dismissing Whitnum’s complaint and denying reconsideration. Whitnum v. Emons, 683 F. App'x 71 (2d Cir. 2017). To the extent Whitnum’s motion to reopen challenged that ruling, or sought to amend her complaint to add a party, the district court was bound by our decision. See Doe v. New York City Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 709 F.2d 782, 788 (2d Cir. 1983) (explaining that law of the case doctrine precludes district court from revisiting issues decided on appeal “either expressly or by necessary implication”) (internal quotation marks omitted). The law of the case doctrine also applies to this Court. See Starbucks Corp. v. Wolfe’s Borough Coffee, Inc., 736 F.3d 198, 208 (2d Cir. 2013) (noting that the law of the case doctrine “counsels a court against revisiting its prior rulings ․ absent cogent and compelling reasons such as an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice”) (internal quotation marks omitted). No such compelling reasons have been shown here. Further, even if such a reason had been proffered, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that a motion for relief “from a final judgment,” Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b), “must be made ․ no more than a year after the entry of the judgment,” Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(c). Whitnum did not file the motions whose denial she now challenges until December 2017, more than two years after the district court’s final judgment. Her motions were thus also untimely.

Finally, Whitnum’s motion for the district court judge’s recusal was moot because the case was closed, and in any event Whitnum failed to demonstrate that the district court displayed “deep-seated favoritism or antagonism that would make fair judgment impossible.” Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 555, 114 S.Ct. 1147, 127 L.Ed.2d 474 (1994).

We have considered Whitnum’s remaining arguments and find them to be without merit. Accordingly, we AFFIRM the order of the district court.

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