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Haynes v. Standing Committee On Professional Conduct for The United States District Court for The Northern District of California

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

February 11, 2014

IN THE MATTER OF THE REFERRAL OF GREGORY M. HAYNES TO THE STANDING COMMITTEE OF THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT. GREGORY M. HAYNES, Appellant,
v.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT FOR THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA. Respondent.

ORDER ON PETITION FOR REVIEW OF ORDER OF DISBARMENT [Docket No. 123]

EDWARD J. DAVILA, District Judge.

Appellant Gregory M. Haynes appeals his disbarment to this three-judge panel.[1] On March 22, 2013, Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton granted summary judgment to Respondent Standing Committee on Professional Conduct for the United State District Court for the Northern District of California ("the Committee"), which sought to disbar Mr. Haynes on the basis of violations of Mr. Haynes' ethical and professional duties to his clients, the court, and the profession of law. Dkt. No. 117, Order.

We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

The factual and procedural history of this case is detailed in Judge Hamilton's decision. To briefly summarize, the Committee sought to have Mr. Haynes disbarred primarily based on his behavior in two cases, hereinafter referred to as Cotterill and Landry. [2]

In Cotterill, Mr. Haynes failed to tell his client that he did not file a timely opposition to the defendants' motion for summary judgment, or that the judge later granted summary judgment, terminating her case. Order at 5. The judge described Mr. Haynes' conduct throughout the case as being "reprehensible" and involving "discovery abuses" and inexcusably late filings. Id. at 4-5. Mr. Haynes also filed an appeal in Cotterill against his client's express wishes. Id. at 6. Later, he failed to return the client's file despite numerous requests. Id. at 7.

In Landry, Mr. Haynes failed to respond to discovery requests and orders, ultimately resulting in a terminating sanction. Id. at 13. He also failed to file an opening appellate brief challenging that sanction, resulting in dismissal of the appeal. Id. During the proceedings, Mr. Haynes was involved in a near-physical altercation with opposing counsel Daniel Zaheer outside of Judge Samuel Conti's courtroom, which necessitated the involvement of court security personnel. Id. at 10. Mr. Haynes later misrepresented the incident in a declaration to Judge Conti. Id. at 11. In both Cotterill and Landry, Mr. Haynes' communications with opposing counsel were laced with profanity. Id. at 3, 9-10.

Procedurally, this case comes to us on review of Judge Hamilton's decision to grant summary judgment in favor of the Committee subsequent to an evidentiary hearing. After the Committee filed its first summary judgment brief, Judge Hamilton asked the Committee to file a revised brief eliminating as many factual issues as possible. Id. at 18. The court then invited Mr. Haynes to file an affidavit pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) if he believed discovery was necessary to respond to the Committee's motion. Id. After reviewing Mr. Haynes' 56(d) declaration, the court allowed discovery on a narrow set of issues relevant to the petition. Id. at 21; see also Dkt. No. 69. Because the discovery related to the altercation in Landry, Judge Hamilton deemed it prudent to conduct an evidentiary hearing to avoid any further delay and enable her to supervise the parties' behavior. Id. at 22-23. Ultimately, at the conclusion of the hearing, there were very few facts in dispute and Judge Hamilton was able to decide the summary judgment motion "without making many credibility determinations." Id. at 62.

II. DISCUSSION

A grant of summary judgment is reviewed de novo on appeal. Balvage v. Ryderwood Improvement & Serv. Ass'n, Inc., 642 F.3d 765, 775 (9th Cir. 2011). Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings, discovery and affidavits demonstrate that there is "no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

Mr. Haynes makes three central arguments on appeal: (1) the Committee and the trial court were biased against him; (2) the proceedings against him were unfair and constituted a violation of due process; and (3) summary judgment was inappropriate because disputed facts exist or do not support the penalty of disbarment. Dkt. No. 141, Reply at 5. Each of these arguments is addressed below.

A. Bias

Mr. Haynes alleges that the Committee and the court were biased against him. Dkt. No. 123, Petition at 5. As to the Committee, Mr. Haynes' allegation of bias is essentially irrelevant because the Committee is not empowered with the ability to impose sanctions, nor did it impose sanctions on him in this case. See Standing Comm on Discipline of the United States Dist. Ct. for the Central Dist. of Cal. v. Yagman, 55 F.3d 1430, 1436 (9th Cir. 1995).

As to the court, Mr. Haynes alleges bias against two judges. He first argues that Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who first referred Mr. Haynes to the Committee for investigation, should not have referred the matter because he did not have "cause to believe that an attorney has engaged in unprofessional conduct." Civ. L. R. 11-6(a) (2009). A review of the record, however, reveals otherwise. Indeed, Judge Walker received a letter from Joanne Hoeper, Chief Trial Attorney for the Office of the City Attorney of San ...


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