United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SANCTIONS
AND DIRECTING THAT THE CLERK OF COURT SEND A COPY OF THIS
ORDER TO MANUEL GONZALEZ AND THE LITIGATION COORDINATOR AT
RICHARD J. DONOVAN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY (ECF NO.
Antonio Gonzalez (“Plaintiff”) is a state
prisoner, and is the plaintiff in this civil rights action
filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which includes
attendant state law claims. Plaintiff is represented by
attorney Stanley Goff.
September 22, 2017, at the request of Plaintiff and his
counsel, the Court issued an order requiring the facility
housing Plaintiff to facilitate a confidential telephone call
between Mr. Gonzalez and his counsel (Mr. Goff) on October
10, 2017. (ECF No. 91). This time and date were set after
consultation with Plaintiff and Mr. Goff.
October 6, 2017, counsel for Defendants filed a “Notice
of Attempt to Comply with Order re Confidential Phone
Conferences Between Plaintiff and His Counsel.” (ECF
No. 97). That document describes how the Warden and staff at
Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD) attempted to
comply with the Court's order, but Plaintiff's
attorney, Mr. Goff, failed to follow-through with the
necessary paperwork to facilitate the call. The notice
included a declaration from D. McGuire, litigation
coordinator at RJD, describing attempts to communicate with
Mr. Goff to facilitate the call and comply with the
Court then requested a response from the Plaintiff. (ECF No.
98). Plaintiff's attorney, Mr. Goff, responded on October
20, 2017 explaining that he was not available on the date of
the scheduled call (despite setting the time himself) so
decided not to fill out the paperwork. Mr. Goff concludes
“Plaintiff's counsel believed and still is under
the honest belief that since he and Plaintiff requested the
phone calls, that either he or Plaintiff would be entitled to
choose not to have the phone calls if some circumstance arose
preventing them from having the phone call, such as the above
mentioned scheduling conflict.” (ECF No. 103, at p. 2)
In other words, Plaintiff's attorney is the one who
decided not to go forward with the Court-ordered call.
October 30, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion for sanctions.
(ECF No. 105). According to Mr. Gonzalez, the litigation
coordinator at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (D.
McGuire) abused his power and violated a court order because
he did not set up the telephone call scheduled for October
10, 2017. Among other things, Plaintiff requests
that Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility be sanctioned
and be ordered to comply with Court orders.
motion to sanction RJD facility will be denied. It was not
staff at RJD who failed to comply with the Court's
order--it was Plaintiff's own attorney who cancelled the
call. Moreover, it appears that Plaintiff's attorney did
not tell the Court, Plaintiff or the facility of his
decision-he merely decided not to return necessary paperwork.
facts summarized above resolve Plaintiff's motion for
sanctions. But it does not resolve the Court's concern
about Mr. Goff. The Court ordered the call because Mr. Goff
allegedly needed to speak with his client to move forward
with the discovery needed in this case. Mr. Goff's
decision not to go forward with the call has interfered with
his own ability to represent his client. Mr. Goff's
decision has wasted the time of this Court and the RJD
facility. The Court does not issue orders to the facility
lightly. It did so only upon the showing of good cause and
based on the understanding the Mr. Goff was available at that
time. Moreover, by not informing the Court, Plaintiff, and
the facility of Mr. Goff s decision, the facility has gone
through the added inconvenience of drafting declarations to
explain why the call did not go forward. And, by not telling
his own client, Plaintiff has filed misguided motions against
not the first time Plaintiff has been unable to communicate
with Mr. Goff in this case, and this lack of communication
between Mr. Goff and a client does not appear to be new. In a
previous case in which Mr. Goff was counsel, Mr. Goff had to
be directed by the Court to communicate with his client.
Cardoza v. Tann, Case No. 1:11-cv-01386, Eastern
District of California, ECF Nos. 94 & 95. The Court
directs Mr. Goff s attention to California Rule of
Professional Conduct 3-500, which states “[a] member
shall keep a client reasonably informed about significant
developments relating to the employment or representation,
including promptly complying with reasonable requests for
information and copies of significant documents when
necessary to keep the client so informed.” Accordingly,
based on the foregoing, IT IS ORDERED that Mr. Gonzalez's
motion for sanctions is DENIED.
FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court is directed to send a
copy of this order to Mr. Gonzalez and the litigation
coordinator at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility.
 Plaintiff's motion also alleges
that the litigation coordinator failed to comply with a Court
order directing Plaintiff to attend a telephonic hearing on
March 29, 2017 (ECF No. 45), because Plaintiff was not
allowed to telephonically attend the hearing. However, at the
Court's direction (ECF No. 48), the litigation
coordinator provided evidence that the reason Plaintiff was
not allowed to attend the telephonic hearing is that
Plaintiff did not notify the litigation coordinator about ...