United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTION OF DENISE BOURGEOIS HALEY TO
WITHDRAW AS COUNSEL [ECF No. 16]
MITCHELL D. DEMBIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
attorney of record, Denise Bourgeois Haley of the Law Offices
of Lawrence D. Rohlfing (“Rohlfing”), moves to
withdraw as attorney of record for Plaintiff Claude L. (ECF
No. 16). No party has opposed the motion. (See
Docket). For the reasons stated herein, the Court
GRANTS Rohlfing's motion.
28, 2019, Plaintiff Claude L. (“Plaintiff”) filed
this action against Andrew M. Saul, Commissioner of Social
Security, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), requesting
judicial review of the Commissioner's decision denying
his claims for disability insurance benefits under Title II
of the Social Security Act. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff
simultaneously filed a motion to proceed in forma
pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915. (ECF No. 2). On July 15, 2019, the Court granted
Plaintiff leave to proceed IFP. (ECF No. 8).
Commissioner filed the Administrative Record on September 30,
2019. (ECF No. 13). On November 1, 2019, Plaintiff filed a
motion for an extension of time to file a merits brief. (ECF
No. 14). The Court granted the motion, giving Plaintiff until
December 6, 2019 to file a merits brief. (ECF No. 15).
Plaintiff did not file a merits brief. (See Docket).
Thereafter, Rohlfing filed the instant motion to withdraw as
Plaintiff's counsel of record. (ECF No. 16). In the
accompanying declaration, Denise Bourgeois Haley states that
representation of Plaintiff has become unreasonably
difficult. (Id. at 5). In particular, Ms. Haley
states that she has been unable to obtain guidance and
approval from Plaintiff on the “specific direction for
the case.” (Id.). Ms. Haley wrote, emailed,
and called Plaintiff on December 2, 2019 and December 6,
2019. (Id.). Ms. Haley did not receive a response
from Plaintiff. (Id.).
attorney may not withdraw as counsel except by leave of
court.” Darby v. City of Torrance, 810 F.Supp.
275, 276 (C.D. Cal. 1992); see also S.D. Cal. Civ.
L.R. 83.3(f)(3). The decision to grant or deny a motion for
withdrawal is within the court's sound discretion, and
courts consider the following factors: “(1) the reasons
why withdrawal is sought; (2) the prejudice withdrawal may
cause to other litigants; (3) the harm withdrawal might cause
to the administration of justice; and (4) the degree to which
withdrawal will delay the resolution of the case.”
Garrett v. Ruiz, No. 11cv2540-IEG (WVG), 2013 WL
163420, at * 2 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 14, 2013).
the Court finds that good cause for withdrawal exists.
Pursuant to the California Rules of Professional Conduct, an
attorney may seek to withdraw from representation if the
client “renders it unreasonably difficult for the
member to carry out the employment effectively.” Cal.
Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 3-700(C)(1)(d).
“Refusal to participate in the litigation is
undoubtedly one such example.” Leatt Corp. v.
Innovative Safety Tech., LLC, No. 09cv1301-IEG (POR),
2010 WL 444708, at *2 (S.D. Cal. Feb. 2, 2010). In her
accompanying declaration, Ms. Haley states that Plaintiff
would not provide guidance and approval on the
“specific direction of the case” and that she has
been unable to communicate with Plaintiff at all. (ECF No. 16
at 5). The Court finds that this constitutes good cause for
withdrawal. Further, the Commissioner does not oppose the
motion, and it appears that neither party will suffer
prejudice as a result of Rohlfing's withdrawal given that
Plaintiff may obtain another attorney or proceed pro
se in this matter. Accordingly, the Court
GRANTS Rohlfing's motion to withdraw as
counsel of record for Plaintiff.
Court cautions Plaintiff that if he does not obtain a new
attorney, he must proceed pro se and file a merits
brief on his own behalf. Additionally, failure to comply with
this Order and file a merits brief may result in dismissal of
this case. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(f)(1)(C) (stating
that “the court may issue any just orders” if a
party “fails to obey a . . . pretrial order”);
see also S.D. Cal. Civ. L.R. 83.1(a) (permitting the
Court to impose sanctions, including dismissal of an action,
for failure to comply with any order of the court); S.D. Cal.
Civ. L.R. 41.1 (permitting the Court to dismiss a case for
failure to comply with the provisions of the local rules of
reasons set forth above, the Court GRANTS
Plaintiff's counsel's motion to withdraw as counsel
of record for Plaintiff Claude L. The Clerk of Court is
instructed to terminate Denise Bourgeois Haley of the Law
Offices of Lawrence D. Rohlfing as attorney of record for
Plaintiff Claude L. The Clerk of Court is further instructed
to amend the Docket to reflect that Plaintiff Claude L. is
proceeding pro se with the following address:
Claude Randall Little
1158 Mayberry ...