United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER IMPOSING SANCTIONS ON ATTORNEY DARYL G.
Andrew G. Schopler United States Magistrate Judge.
counsel Daryl G. Crouse failed to appear at two Court-ordered
hearings and did not provide a satisfactory reason for those
absences. The Court concludes that he must be sanctioned.
Early Proceedings and First Show-Cause Hearing (May 22,
February 2019, Crouse failed to respond to defense
counsel's emails to arrange the Rule 26(f) conference.
(ECF No. 12, at 1.) Crouse ultimately failed to participate
in the February 27, 2019 Rule 26(f) conference and failed to
contribute to the Joint Discovery Plan, which the defense
filed alone on March 11, 2019. (ECF No. 11, at 3; ECF No. 12,
at 1; ECF No. 17.) That same day, Crouse failed to submit the
Court-ordered Early Neutral Evaluation statement. (ECF No.
11, at 3; ECF No. 17.) Although Crouse appeared for the March
18, 2019 ENE, he failed to meet his Court-ordered obligations
thereafter, including: (1) failing to meet the May 13, 2019
deadline for accepting or rejecting the Court's
mediator's proposal; (2) failing to set up the May 14,
2019 joint phone call to chambers; and (3) failing to call in
to chambers by 10:00 a.m. on May 14, 2019. (ECF No. 17.)
22, 2019, the Court held a show-cause hearing on Crouse's
failure to participate; he appeared for that hearing. (ECF
No. 19.) Although the Court discharged that show-cause order
without further action, the Court explicitly admonished
Crouse: “If this sort of behavior were to rear its head
again in this litigation . . . I certainly would take a much
more severe approach, I think, to the sanctions that are
appropriate.” (Digital Court Record File,
Later Proceedings and Missed Motion-to-Compel Hearing (Sept.
this warning, Crouse did not meaningfully participate in the
litigation after the May 22 show-cause hearing. He failed to
respond to the defense's requests for admission and for
document-production by the July 22, 2019 deadline. (ECF No.
20-2, at 2.) And he failed to respond to defense
counsel's emails and phone calls about these discovery
requests. (Id.) So, on August 12, 2019, the defense
filed a motion to compel discovery responses, which also
noticed the hearing on that motion for September 12, 2019.
(ECF No. 20, at 1.) Crouse failed to respond to that motion
in writing, and then failed to appear at the September 12
motion-to-compel hearing. (ECF No. 22.)
Missed Second Show-Cause Hearing (Sept. 26, 2019)
of that missed court appearance, the Court ordered Crouse to
appear on September 26, 2019, to show cause why he should not
be held in contempt. (ECF No. 21.) He again failed to appear.
(ECF No. 23.)
Third Show-Cause Hearing (October 10, 2019)
this second missed court appearance, the Court ordered Crouse
to appear at a third show-cause hearing, scheduled for
October 10, 2019. (ECF No. 26.) The day of that hearing,
Crouse filed a response to the Order to Show Cause,
explaining that he had been in trial from September 9-24,
2019. (ECF No. 28, at 1.) The written response did not
otherwise address why he missed (or failed to move to
postpone) the September 12 hearing-which was noticed a month
before the conflicting trial began-or why he missed the
September 26 hearing-which was held after his trial ended.
When the Court offered Crouse a final opportunity to explain
the missed court appearances, he said that he unintentionally
failed to attend to his emails and the court docket in this
case. As he had at the May 22, 2019 show-cause hearing,
Crouse expressed his remorse and his promise to do better in
judges have “the authority to sanction attorneys for
failing to appear” at hearings. Sapan v. SolarMax
Tech., Inc., No. 15-cv-897-MMA-MDD, 2015 WL 6128425, at
*2 (S.D. Cal. Oct 16, 2015); see also Fed. R. Civ.
P. 16(f) (authorizing a court to issue “any just
orders, ” including Rule 37 sanctions, “if a
party or its attorney . . . fails to appear at a scheduling
or other pretrial conference” or “fails to obey a
scheduling or other pretrial order”); Local Civ. R.
83.1(a) (warning that counsel's failure to comply with a
court order “may be grounds for imposition by the court
of any and all sanctions . . . within the inherent power of
the court, including, without limitation, dismissal of any
actions, entry of default, finding of contempt, [or]
imposition of monetary sanctions”). No “bad faith