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Case 3:18-cv-02287-GPC-MSB Document 62 Filed 02/14/19 PageID.

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8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
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11 SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE Case No.: 18CV2287-GPB(BLM)
COMMISSION,
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Plaintiff, ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO
13 WITHDRAW AS COUNSEL
v.
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BLOCKVEST, LLC and REGINALD
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BUDDY RINGGOLD, III a/k/a RASOOL
16 ABDUL RAHIM EL,
17 Defendants.
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19 Before the Court is Corrigan & Morris, LLP’s motion to withdraw as counsel for
20 Defendants Blockvest, LLC and Reginald Buddy Ringgold. (Dkt. No. 47.) Plaintiff does
21 not oppose defense counsel’s motion to withdraw. (Dkt. No. 54.) Based on the
22 reasoning below, the Court GRANTS Corrigan & Morris, LLP’s motion to withdraw as
23 defense counsel.
24 Factual Background
25 “An attorney may not withdraw as counsel except by leave of court.” Darby v.
26 City of Torrance, 810 F. Supp. 275, 276 (C.D. Cal. 1992). The trial court has discretion
27 whether to grant or deny an attorney's motion to withdraw in a civil case. Washington v.
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1 Sherwin Real Estate, Inc., 694 F.2d 1081, 1087 (7th Cir. 1982). Courts should consider
2 the following factors when ruling upon a motion to withdraw as counsel:
3 (1) the reasons why withdrawal is sought; (2) the prejudice withdrawal may cause to
4 other litigants; (3) the harm withdrawal might cause to the administration of justice; and
5 (4) the degree to which withdrawal will delay the resolution of the case.
6 Deal v. Countrywide Home Loans, No. C09-01643 SBA, 2010 WL 3702459, at *2 (N.D.
7 Cal. Sept. 15, 2010).
8 Rule 1.16(a)(2) of the California Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of
9 California (“Rules”) provides that “a lawyer shall not represent a client or, where
10 representation has commenced, shall withdraw from the representation of a client if: . . .
11 (2) the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the representation will result in
12 violation of these rules or of the State Bar Act.” Cal. R. Prof. Conduct 1.16(a)(2). An
13 attorney may withdraw representation if “the client by other conduct renders it
14 unreasonably difficult for the lawyer to carry out the representation effectively” or “the
15 client breaches a material term of an agreement with, or obligation, to the lawyer relating
16 to the representation, and the lawyer has given the client a reasonable warning after the
17 breach that the lawyer will withdraw unless the client fulfills the agreement or performs
18 the obligation.” Cal. R. Prof. Conduct 1.16(b)(4), (5). The Rules also require that a
19 lawyer must not terminate a representation until the “lawyer has taken reasonable steps to
20 avoid reasonably foreseeable prejudice to the rights of the client, such as giving the client
21 sufficient notice to permit the client to retain other counsel.” Cal. R. Prof. Conduct
22 1.16(d). Failure to pay counsel can be a valid reason for withdrawal. Indymac Federal
23 Bank, FSB v. McComic, No. 08cv1871-IEG(WVG), 2010 WL 2000013, at *1 (S.D. Cal.
24 2010).
25 According to the declaration of defense counsel filed in support, Corrigan &
26 Morris, LLP was retained on October 16, 2018 pursuant to an engagement agreement
27 with Defendants and since November 27, 2018, there has been a “complete breakdown in
28 the attorney-client relationship.” (Dtk. No. 47-1, Morris Decl. ¶¶ 3, 7.) According to

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1 Stanley Morris, a partner at Corrigan & Morris, LLP, Defendants made serious
2 accusations against him and the firm and also failed and refused to comply with the
3 payment obligations in their engagement agreement. (Id. ¶ 8.) Moreover, Defendants
4 instructed counsel to file certain documents that were prepared by Defendants that “fall
5 far short of the professional standards” required by the Court, his firm and the duties
6 under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. (Id. ¶ 9.) Defendants attempted to file these
7 documents with the Court without counsel’s permission or signature but they were
8 rejected by the Court Clerk. (Id.) On December 10, 11 and 14, 2018, Morris notified
9 Defendants via email, that Defendants must find substitute counsel within two-weeks or
10 C&M would file a motion to withdraw. (Id. ¶¶ 11, 12, 14.) Corrigan & Morris, LLP
11 asserts that there will be no prejudice to Defendants since it is still early in the case and
12 no scheduling order has been filed. (Id. ¶ 17.)
13 The Court finds that the factors to support withdrawal of counsel has been met.
14 Defense counsel has presented sufficient reasons why it is seeking withdrawal, there will
15 no prejudice to other litigants, and because the case is still in its early stages, the
16 withdrawal will not delay the resolution of the case or harm the administration of justice.
17 Therefore, the Court GRANTS Corrigan & Morris, LLP’s motion to withdraw as counsel
18 for Defendants.
19 Defendant Blockvest LLC, a limited liability corporation, may not proceed in
20 federal court without counsel. Rowland v. California Men’s Colony, Unit II Men’s
21 Advisory Council, 506 U.S. 194, 201-02 (1993); see also United States v. High Country
22 Broadcasting Co. Inc., 3 F.3d 1244, 1245 (9th Cir. 1993); C.E. Pope Equity Trust v.
23 United States, 818 F.2d 696, 697-98 (9th Cir. 1987); Civil Local Rule 83.3k (“all other
24 parties, including corporations; partnerships and other legal entities may appear in court
25 only through an attorney permitted to practice pursuant to Civil Local Rule 83.3.”).
26 Therefore, the Court grants Blockvest, LLC until March 15, 2019 to obtain substitute
27 counsel and have counsel file a notice of appearance. Blockvest, LLC is notified that if it
28 fails to obtain new counsel and have counsel file a notice of appearance, it may be subject

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1 to default proceedings. See High Country Broadcasting Co., Inc., 3 F.3d at 1245.
2 Defendant Reginald Buddy Ringgold may proceed pro se.
3 IT IS SO ORDERED.
4 Dated: February 14, 2019
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