Watkins v. Investment Retrievers, Inc.
ORDER signed by District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller on 10/30/17: Counsel for plaintiff shall pay $250 in sanctions to the Clerk of the Court within ten days of this order, without passing this cost to his client. (Kaminski, H)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
INVESTMENT RETRIEVERS, INC.,
On October 12, 2017, the court ordered plaintiff’s counsel, Jonathan Aaron
Stieglitz, to show cause why he should not be sanctioned: (1) $250.00 for failing to appear at the
October 6, 2017 status conference and hearing on defendant’s motion to dismiss, and (2) $250.00
for failing to designate Rachel Drake or the appropriate acting counsel as attorney of record for
plaintiff. ECF No. 19. Mr. Stieglitz responded to the order to show cause on October 17, 2017.
ECF No. 20. Defendant filed a reply that same day. ECF No. 21. Mr. Stieglitz filed a second
response on October 19, 2017. ECF Nos. 22, 22-1.
The court has reviewed Mr. Stieglitz’s responses and determines he has not shown
sanctions should not be imposed for his failure to appear. Mr. Stieglitz explains his request for
telephonic appearance, filed on September 7, 2017 and denied by this court on September 12,
2017, was submitted in error. See ECF No. 20, p. 2; ECF No. 14; ECF No. 15. Mr. Stieglitz later
realized observance of a religious holiday on October 6, 2012 would prohibit him from attending
the conference and hearing. ECF No. 20, p. 2. Mr. Stieglitz states he did not request continuance
of the hearing because he was unable to obtain consent from defendant’s counsel. Id. Instead, Mr.
Stieglitz sent “local counsel” who is not an attorney of record in this action. Id.
Local Rule 230(f) permits counsel to submit “[r]equests for continuances of
hearings on the motion calendar, upon stipulation or otherwise, . . . at least seven (7) days before
the scheduled hearing date.” Accordingly, Mr. Stieglitz had ample opportunity to request
continuance, with or without opposing counsel’s consent, after the court denied his request for
telephonic appearance on September 12, 2017.
The court further determines Mr. Stieglitz has not shown sanctions should not be
imposed for failing to designate Rachel Drake or appropriate acting counsel as attorney for
plaintiff. Mr. Stieglitz states his client, Reginald Watkins, retained Ms. Drake’s New Jersey law
firm, RC Law Group, PLLC, and later retained Mr. Stieglitz “to serve as California counsel in
this action.” Id. at p. 3. Mr. Stieglitz refers to Ms. Drake as his “co-counsel.” Id. He further states
Ms. Drake “drafted the initial Discovery Plan,” but later sought review, comments and approval
from Mr. Stieglitz. Id.
Local Rule 182(a)(1) provides “no attorney may participate in any action unless
the attorney has appeared as an attorney of record.” Ms. Drake had not appeared as an attorney of
record in this action, as Mr. Stieglitz knew at the time he filed documents with the court.
Accordingly, sanctions are warranted.
Although the court previously signaled its intent to impose $500 in sanctions for
Mr. Stieglitz’s multiple violations, it now imposes $250 in light of Mr. Stieglitz’s timely
responses to the order to show cause and the steps he has initiated to ensure compliance, however
belated, with the Local Rules.
In accordance with the above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED counsel for plaintiff
shall pay $250 in sanctions to the Clerk of the Court within ten days of this order, without passing
this cost to his client.
DATED: October 30, 2017.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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