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Stanley v. Chappell

United States District Court, E.D. California

January 23, 2015

GERALD F. STANLEY, Petitioner,
v.
KEVIN CHAPPELL, Warden of California State Prison at San Quentin, Respondent.

ORDER DENYING MR. LEAVITT'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

JOHN A. MENDEZ, District Judge.

Before the Court is Attorney Jack Leavitt's Request for Reconsideration (Doc. #982) of Magistrate Judge Delaney's December 19, 2014 Order (Doc. #972). Mr. Leavitt challenges the Magistrate Judge's award of sanctions, arguing that he has "acted properly in this litigation." Mot. at 2.

I. OPINION

A. Legal Standard

Sanctions are non-dispositive matters which may be imposed by magistrate judges. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Grimes v. City & Cnty. of San Francisco, 951 F.2d 236, 240 (9th Cir. 1991). Because sanctions are non-dispositive matters, review of sanctions issued by magistrate judges is governed by the "clearly erroneous or contrary to law" standard set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 236(b)(1)(A). Therefore, a magistrate judge's order cannot be set aside or modified unless the findings of fact are clearly erroneous or the conclusions are contrary to law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). The order should be modified or set aside only if the reviewing court is left "with the definite and firm conviction that the [magistrate judge's] key findings are mistaken." Easley v. Cromartie, 532 U.S. 234, 243 (2001).

B. Analysis

This Court finds that Magistrate Judge Delaney's findings were not clearly erroneous or contrary to law. The terms of Magistrate Judge Hollows' October 22, 2002 Order are unambiguous: "Attorney Leavitt is not permitted to appear in this action, and he shall file no further pleadings in this action[.]" Doc. #365 at 9. Magistrate Judge Delaney's October 3, 2014 Order is similarly unequivocal: "[U]nless he is specifically ordered to do so, Mr. Leavitt is barred from filing anything further in this case.... [Leavitt] is warned that any further filings he makes with this court may subject him, again, to sanctions." Doc. #940 at 2. On October 29, 2014, in ordering Mr. Leavitt to respond to the motion for sanctions against him, Magistrate Judge Delaney crafted a narrow exception to these prohibitions: "Mr. Leavitt's response shall be limited to explaining why this court should not impose sanctions and/or find him in contempt of court. In addition, Mr. Leavitt may request oral argument." Doc. #949 at 1.

Magistrate Judge Delaney found that Mr. Leavitt violated these orders with five separate filings (or attempted filings, which were served on Petitioner's counsel): (1) Request for Relief to Protect Confidentiality and to Prevent Continuation of Unethical Procedures (Doc. #933) filed on August 21, 2014 and removed by order of the court on October 3, 2014 (Doc. #940); (2) Declaration of Gerald Stanley regarding Attorney Representation - prepared and served by Mr. Leavitt (Doc. #937); (3) Motion to Dismiss Sanctions Motion (not filed, pursuant to Doc. #962); (4) Motion for Court Order to Assure Gerald F. Stanley's Presence at Hearing on Sanctions Motion (not filed, pursuant to Doc. #962); and (5) Declaration of Gerald F. Stanley Opposing Sanctions Motion and Requesting Presence at Hearing (not filed, pursuant to Doc. #962). Given the unambiguous nature of both Magistrate Judge Hollows' and Magistrate Judge Delaney's orders, it cannot be said that Magistrate Judge Delaney's findings were clearly erroneous or contrary to law.

The Court further finds that the myriad issues and arguments raised by Mr. Leavitt are not relevant and raise no issues of material fact. See United States v. Ayres, 166 F.3d 991, 996 (9th Cir. 1999).

II. ORDER

For the reasons set forth above, the Court DENIES Mr. Leavitt's Request for Reconsideration.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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