United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
C. COUGHENOUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court sua sponte. On October
31, 2019, Plaintiff's counsel Christopher J. Stockwell
informed the Court that he must withdraw from the present
case because his current physical or mental condition
materially impairs his ability to represent Plaintiff.
See Wash. Rules of Prof'l Conduct R. 1.16(b)(2).
Mr. Stockwell conveyed the serious nature of his condition
and has represented that it precludes him from filing a
proper notice of withdrawal and from adequately representing
his clients, including Plaintiff. On November 4, 2019, the
Court notified Plaintiff and Defendant of Mr. Stockwell's
condition and request for leave to withdraw. On November 7,
2019, the Court held a telephonic conference with Plaintiff
and Defendant to discuss Mr. Stockwell's request for
leave to withdraw, the status of the case, and appropriate
next steps. Plaintiff has since requested that the case be
stayed to allow him to search for new counsel. Having
considered the foregoing, the Court hereby issues the
Request to Withdraw
attorney shall withdraw an appearance without leave of the
Court if the withdrawal will leave the client without
representation. W.D. Wash. Local Civ. R. 83.2(b)(1). The
decision to deny or grant counsel's motion to withdraw is
within the discretion of the Court. Washington v. Sherwin
Real Estate, Inc., 694 F.2d 1081, 1087 (7th Cir. 1982).
Under Local Civil Rule 83.2:
When an attorney suddenly becomes unable to act in a case due
to . . . incapacity . . . the party for whom he or she was
acting as attorney must, before any further proceedings are
had in the action on his or her behalf . . . (i) appoint
another attorney who must enter an appearance in accordance
with subsection (a) or (ii) seek an order of substitution to
proceed pro se in accordance with subsection [(b)(5)].
W.D. Wash. Local Civ. R. 83.2(b)(6).
Stockwell has described the serious nature of his present
condition, and the Court has not discerned any reason to
doubt Mr. Stockwell's representations. Therefore, the
Court FINDS that Mr. Stockwell has become unable to act in
this case due to incapacity within the meaning of Local Civil
Rule 83.2(b)(6) and GRANTS his request for leave to withdraw.
In accordance with the Court's order, attorney
Christopher J. Stockwell and his law firm, Stockwell Law Firm
PLLC, are GRANTED leave to withdraw from representation and
as counsel in this action for Plaintiff, effective as of the
date this order is issued. The Clerk is DIRECTED to mail a
copy of this order to Plaintiff Mario Rodriguez at: P.O. Box
85780, Chicago, Illinois 60680.
Request to Stay
Court has discretion over whether to grant a stay of
proceedings in its own court. Lockyear v. Mirant
Corp., 398 F.3d 1098, 1109 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing
Landis v. North American Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254
(1936)). The length of a stay must be balanced against the
strength of the justification for it. Yong v. Immigration
and Naturalization Serv., 208 F.3d 1116, 1119 (9th Cir.
2000) (citing Hines v. D'Artois, 531 F.2d 726,
733 (5th Cir.1976)). Under the Local Civil Rules, a party
whose attorney becomes incapacitated cannot appear or act on
his own behalf, and no proceedings may be had in the action
on his behalf, until the party retains a new attorney who
appears for the party or the party is granted an order of
substitution to proceed pro se. See W.D.
Wash. Local Civ. R. 83.2(b)(5), (b)(6).
factors support Plaintiff's request to stay this case.
Mr. Stockwell's incapacity and consequent withdrawal have
deprived Plaintiff of counsel at a late stage in the
litigation, as discovery closed on September 23, 2019,
dispositive motions were due by October 21, 2019, and trial
is presently scheduled for January 21, 2020. (See
Dkt. No. 18.) While Mr. Stockwell fully briefed the pending
motion for leave to amend complaint and motion for summary
judgment, (see Dkt. Nos. 26, 31, 36, 37), the
disposition of those motions may entail additional discovery
or otherwise impact the claims at issue in this litigation.
And whether Plaintiff ultimately retains new counsel or
proceeds pro se, additional time will be necessary
to adequately prepare for trial.
the Court finds good cause and GRANTS Plaintiff's request
to stay this case while he seeks new counsel. The trial date
is hereby VACATED and all matters in this case are hereby
STAYED for 90 days from the date of this order. If Plaintiff
is unable to retain new counsel, Plaintiff shall file a
motion to proceed pro se in accordance with Local
Civil Rule 83.2(b)(5) within seven days of the expiration of the
stay. Once Plaintiff retains new counsel or is granted leave
to proceed pro se pursuant to Local Civil Rule
83.2(b)(5), the parties shall file a joint status report
proposing a modified case schedule, including new noting
dates for the pending motions (Dkt. Nos. 26, 31) and a new
foregoing reasons, Christopher J. Stockwell and his law firm
Stockwell Law Firm PLLC are GRANTED leave to withdraw as
counsel for Plaintiff Mario Rodriguez. All matters in this
case are ...