United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO WITHDRAW RE: ECF NO.
BEELER United States Magistrate Judge
Lacy moves to withdraw as counsel for the plaintiff, Stacy
Brown, because Mr. Brown “has completely withdrawn his
participation” from the litigation. Mr. Lacy notified
Mr. Brown of his intention to withdraw by mail five times
between December 12, 2016, and April 12, 2017, and mailed the
pending motion on May 17. Mr. Brown, however, did not
respond. The defendants do not oppose Mr.
court can decide the matter without oral argument and vacates
the June 22, 2017 hearing. Civil L.R. 7-1(b). The court
grants the motion because Mr. Brown's failure to
communicate establishes good cause, and because Mr. Lacy has
taken sufficient steps to alert Mr. Brown of his intention to
withdraw and to avoid possible harm stemming therefrom.
Civil Local Rule 11-5(a), “[c]ounsel may not withdraw
from an action until relieved by order of Court after written
notice has been given reasonably in advance to the client and
to all other parties who have appeared in the case.”
Until the client appears pro se or obtains other
representation, motions to withdraw as counsel may be granted
on the condition that current counsel continue to serve on
the client all papers from the court and from the opposing
parties. Civil L.R. 11-5(b).
is governed by the California Rules of Professional Conduct.
See Nehad v. Mukasey, 535 F.3d 962, 970 (9th Cir.
2008) (applying California Rules of Professional Conduct to
attorney withdrawal); see also Dieter v. Regents of Univ.
of Cal., 963 F.Supp. 908, 910 (E.D. Cal. 1997). Under
California Rule of Professional Conduct 3-700(C), counsel may
withdraw if the client makes it unreasonably difficult for
the attorney to carry out his or her duties. Cal. R. Prof.
Conduct 3-700(C)(1)(d). Failure to maintain regular
communication with one's counsel constitutes good cause
for withdrawal. Ortiz v. Freitas, No.
14-cv-00322-JSC, 2015 WL 3826151, at *2 (N.D. Cal. June 18,
compliance with California Rule of Professional Conduct
3-700(A)(2), counsel may not “withdraw from employment
until the member has taken reasonable steps to avoid
reasonably foreseeable prejudice to the rights of the
client.” These steps include: (1) giving due notice to
the client; (2) allowing time for employment of other
counsel, pursuant to Rule 3-700(D); and (3) complying with
applicable laws and rules. Cal. R. P. Conduct 3-700(A)(2);
El Hage v. U.S. Sec. Assocs., Inc., No. C06-7828
TEH, 2007 WL 4328809, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 10, 2007).
decision to permit counsel to withdraw is within the sound
discretion of the trial court. United States v.
Carter, 560 F.3d 1107, 1113 (9th Cir. 2009). Courts
consider several factors when deciding a motion for
withdrawal, including: “(1) the reasons counsel seeks
to withdraw; (2) the possible prejudice that withdrawal may
cause to other litigants; (3) the harm that withdrawal might
cause to the administration of justice; and (4) the extent to
which withdrawal will delay resolution of the case.”
Deal v. Countrywide Home Loans, No. C 09-01643 SBA,
2010 WL 3702459, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 15, 2010).
Good Cause for Withdrawal
cause exists for Mr. Lacy's withdrawal. Mr. Brown filed
this case on September 2, 2016. But, “[s]ince that time,
[he] has completely withdrawn his participation in the
prosecution of th[e] matter, including responding to
necessary discovery.” Indeed, Mr. Brown's lack of
communication and participation has “severely
hampered” the parties' discovery
efforts. It also led Mr. Lacy to suggest
modification of the court's scheduling order to
“continue efforts to locate [Mr.
Brown].” “Despite diligent attempts”
and use of “every resource available to [him] in [his]
search for Mr. Brown[, ] including contacting his family and
friends, ” Mr. Lacy has been unable to contact Mr.
Brown. The court has already granted the
parties' stipulated extension of the ADR deadline due to
Mr. Brown's non-participation,  and the parties now ask
to vacate all upcoming court deadlines for the same
Mr. Brown's lack of communication and participation in
the case, it is apparent that Mr. Lacy's continued
representation would be unreasonably difficult. Mr. Lacy has
therefore shown good cause for withdrawal.
Timing and ...