United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
RICHARD A. JONES, District Judge.
On December 8, 2014, at 10:30 a.m., the parties will appear before the court for a hearing. Although that hearing has been designated as a hearing on Plaintiff's counsel's motion to withdraw, the court issues this order to clarify for all parties the purpose of the hearing. The clerk shall TERMINATE Plaintiff's counsel's motion to seal various documents. Dkt. # 77. The clerk shall also TERMINATE Larry James King, who is now deceased, as Plaintiff's counsel of record.
II. SUMMARY OF DOCKET SINCE OCTOBER 31
The court received notice from the parties' counsel by telephone on October 31 that this action had settled, although the settlement would not become final until November 7. Dkt. # 61. Since then, Plaintiff and her counsel have aired a dispute about whether she actually consented to that settlement, along with many disputes about their attorney-client relationship that are either unrelated to or barely related to their dispute about the settlement.
On November 4, Plaintiff's counsel moved to withdraw from representing her, citing Washington Rule of Professional Conduct 1.16, which mandates withdrawal where "the representation [of the client] will result in a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law." Neither of Plaintiff's two attorneys specified the circumstances leading them to seek withdrawal, other than to say that "[r]ecent developments" in this suit had lead them to conclude that "professional considerations" required their withdrawal. Dkt. ## 63, 64.
On the same day, Plaintiff appeared personally to deliver documents to the chambers of the undersigned judge. The court described those circumstances in a November 5, 2014 order. Dkt. # 65. On November 7, Plaintiff filed a letter (Dkt. # 66), along with some supporting documents, in which she raised many complaints about the conduct of her counsel, but nonetheless insisted that they should be forced to continue to represent her. She also explained why she believed that she had not agreed to settle this action.
On November 14, Plaintiff's counsel and Defendant filed a stipulation to dismiss this action. Dkt. # 69. Defendant also filed a separate document explaining why it believed that Plaintiff had agreed to a settlement. Dkt. # 68. Plaintiff herself weighed in the same day, filing a letter wherein she stated that she had not consented to the stipulated dismissal. Dkt. # 70.
On November 17, the court issued a minute order explaining that it would not take any action on the "stipulated" dismissal until it addressed counsel's motion to withdraw. Dkt. # 71.
On November 21, Plaintiff's counsel filed nine documents (Dkt. ## 72-81), many of which they improperly designated motions, many of which were duplicative of each other. In those documents, counsel offered their response to Plaintiff's complaints about their conduct, describing their communications with Plaintiff about this case in minute detail. The three documents detailing these attorney-client communications are under seal. Dkt. ## 78, 79, 81. Defendant is aware that the documents have been submitted under seal, and has not objected.
On December 2, Plaintiff herself filed still more documents about her dispute with her attorneys. Dkt. # 83.
III. THE COURT WILL PERMIT PLAINTIFF'S COUNSEL TO WITHDRAW
Both Plaintiff and her counsel seem to believe that the court will wade into their disputes about their attorney-client relationship and their disagreements over how to litigate this case. The court will not do so. It is apparent to the court from its review of the documents that the court must grant counsel's motion to withdraw. Their relationship with their client is ...