The United States of America v. Salazar et al

Filing 29

ORDER GRANTING 27 Defendants' Motion for an Extension of Time to Obtain Counsel, signed by Magistrate Judge Christopher D. Baker on 6/6/2024. (Hall, S)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 12 13 14 15 Plaintiff, v. JAVIER SALAZAR, JR., et al., Defendants. Case No. 1:23-cv-01282-JLT-CDB ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR AN EXTENSION OF TIME TO OBTAIN COUNSEL (Doc. 27) 21-DAY DEADLINE 16 17 18 On August 28, 2023, Plaintiff United States of America initiated this action with the filing of a 19 complaint against Defendants Javier Salazar, Jr., Javier Salazar, Sr., and Ricardo Covarrubias 20 (hereinafter collectively “Defendants”). (Doc. 1). After granting Plaintiff extensions of time to effect 21 service (Docs. 6, 8), on November 25, 2023, Plaintiff served the summons and complaint as to 22 Defendants Salazar Jr. and Salazar Sr. (Docs. 9-10). Plaintiff served the summons and complaint as 23 to Defendant Covarrubias on February 8, 2024. (Doc. 13). 24 In connection with communications Plaintiff had with one or more of the Defendants 25 concerning its service attempts, in October 2023, Defendant Salazar, Jr. represented to Plaintiff that he 26 intended to attempt to retain counsel. (Doc. 5). On March 6, 2024, Defendants represented to Plaintiff 27 they would like 90 days to seek counsel and may seek a stay of the Court’s proceedings to facilitate 28 their efforts to retain counsel. (Doc. 16). Nevertheless, as Defendants already had defaulted on their 1 1 obligation to timely respond to the complaint, on March 12, 2024, Plaintiff filed requests for entry of 2 default as to all Defendants. (Doc. 19). The Clerk of the Court entered defaults as to all Defendants 3 on March 12, 2024. (Docs. 20-22). 4 On April 12, 2024, Plaintiff filed a motion for default judgment, monetary damages, and 5 injunctive relief against Defendants. (Doc. 24). On May 22, 2024, the Court convened for hearing on 6 Plaintiff’s motion for default judgment. (Doc. 25). Counsels Roshni Shikari and Robert Fuentes 7 appeared on behalf of Plaintiff via Zoom videoconference. Id. Defendants appeared on behalf of 8 themselves, and Anna Covarrubias (a family member of Defendant Covarrubias) appeared to assist 9 Defendants with English-to-Spanish interpretation. (Doc. 25). During the hearing, the Court advised 10 Defendants of the procedural posture of the case, including that the Clerk of the Court had entered 11 defaults against Defendants because they had failed to respond to the complaint, and admonished 12 Defendants that, having appeared in the action and subjected themselves to the Court’s personal 13 jurisdiction, they were obligated to follow local rules of Court and the Court’s orders. Id. 14 At the conclusion of the hearing, Defendants requested additional time to seek and retain 15 counsel. (Doc. 26). Given its assessment that Defendants had already been afforded ample time and 16 opportunities to seek out and retain counsel, the Court ordered Defendants within 14 days to file 17 either: (1) a notice of attorney appearance on their behalf; (2) a notice of intent to continue proceeding 18 pro se; or (3) a notice of request demonstrating good cause for additional time within which to retain 19 an attorney. Id. 20 Pending before the Court is Defendants’ motion for an extension of time to obtain counsel, 21 timely filed on June 3, 2024. (Doc. 27). Defendants assert they have made multiple attempts to retain 22 an attorney but still require and request additional time. Id. Defendants identify no other grounds 23 warranting any additional extension of time. 24 The Court concludes that Defendants have carelessly abdicated their duties under federal law 25 and the Court’s local rules to meaningfully participate in this litigation. In particular, Defendant 26 Salazar Jr. reported and confirmed at the May 22, 2024, hearing that, as Plaintiff represented in its 27 earlier status report, he had been seeking to retain counsel since October 2023 (e.g., for more than six 28 months since being served with the complaint). (Docs. 5, 26). Moreover, Defendants Salazar Sr. and 2 1 Covarrubias do not dispute that, as represented by Plaintiff, they have spent approximately three 2 months attempting to retain counsel. (Doc. 16). In short, the Court has generously afforded 3 Defendants more than ample time to seek out and retain counsel but cannot delay indefinitely its 4 obligation to provide for the “just, speedy, and inexpensive determination” of this action. Fed. R. Civ. 5 P. 1. 6 Accordingly, it is HEREBY ORDERED: 7 1. Defendants’ motion for an extension of time to obtain counsel (Doc. 27) is GRANTED, and 8 2. Within 21 days from the date of service of this order, Defendants shall file either (1) notices of 9 appearance of counsel on their behalf, or (2) an opposition to Plaintiff’s pending motion for 10 default judgment (Doc. 24). 11 Defendants are forewarned that the Court will not entertain any further requests for extensions 12 of time to retain counsel. Should Defendants fail to timely comply with this order, the Court will 13 construe their failure to timely oppose Plaintiff’s motion for default judgment as a non-opposition (see 14 Local Rule 230(c)). 15 Failure to timely comply with this order may result in the imposition of sanctions, 16 including financial sanctions. 17 IT IS SO ORDERED. 18 19 Dated: June 6, 2024 ___________________ _ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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