Judge: Jill Feeney, Case: 20STCV46201, Date: 2022-08-02 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: 20STCV46201    Hearing Date: August 2, 2022    Dept: 30

Department 30, Spring Street Courthouse
August 2, 2022
Motion to Be Relieved as Counsel filed by Counsel Lawrence D. Marks, counsel to Plaintiff Michael Timothy Duran


The motion is granted.

Counsel is to serve the signed MC-053 on the Client and to file proof of service of the signed MC-053 within five court days after the date of this order.


This is an action for battery, negligence, and violation Civil Code section 52.1 arising from an incident in November 2019 when West Covina police officers arrested Plaintiff. Plaintiff Michael Timothy Duran filed his complaint against the City of West Covina, the West Covina Police Department, Ian Paparro, Chris Quezada, Chief of Police Richard Bell, and Does 1 to 40 on December 3, 2020. Plaintiff alleges West Covina police officers used unreasonable force when they fired on him without warning.

On May 19, 2022, the Court ordered the Final Status Conference placed off calendar because Plaintiff had a pending criminal case and requested a continuance. 

On June 30, 2022, Plaintiff’s Counsel, Lawrence D. Marks, filed this motion to be relieved as counsel. 

Moving Arguments 
Counsel seeks a court order relieving him as counsel of record for Plaintiff Michael Timothy Duran on the grounds that attorney-client communication has broken down due to, among other things, Plaintiff’s felony convictions for assault of a police officer with a deadly weapon. 

Legal Standard 
California Rules of Court (“CRC”), rule 3.1362 (Motion to Be Relieved as Counsel) requires: (1) notice of motion and motion to be directed to the client (made on the Notice of Motion and Motion to be Relieved as Counsel—Civil form (MC-051)); (2) a declaration stating in general terms and without compromising the confidentiality of the attorney-client relationship why a motion under CCP § 284(2) is brought instead of filing a consent under CCP § 284(1) (made on the Declaration in Support of Attorney's Motion to Be Relieved as Counsel—Civil form (MC-052)); (3) service of the notice of motion, motion, and declaration on all other parties who have appeared in the case; and (4) the proposed order relieving counsel (prepared on the Order Granting Attorney's Motion to Be Relieved as Counsel—Civil form (MC-053)). 
The court has discretion to allow an attorney to withdraw, and such a motion should be granted provided that there is no prejudice to the client, and it does not disrupt the orderly process of justice. (See Ramirez v. Sturdevant (1994) 21 Cal.App.4th 904, 915.) Withdrawal is generally permitted unless there is a compelling reason to continue the representation. (Heple v. Kluge (1951) 104 Cal.App.2d 461, 462.) There is a compelling reason when the withdrawal would prejudice the client, the other parties in the action, or a third party. (People v. Prince (1968) 268 Cal.App.2d 398, 406; Linn v. Superior Court in and for Los Angeles County (1926) 79 Cal.App. 721, 725.) 


Counsel seeks to be relieved as counsel for Plaintiff Michael Timothy Duran.

Counsel filed a Notice of Motion and Motion to Be Relieved as Counsel (MC-051), Declaration in Support of Attorney’s Motion to Be Relieved as Counsel (MC-052), and Proposed Order Granting Attorney’s Motion to Be Relieved as Counsel (MC-053) on all appropriate forms, as outlined within California Rules of Court, rule 3.1362, subdivisions (a), (c), and (e). (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1362, subd. (a), (c), (e).)
Counsel properly served his motion by mail at Plaintiff’s address. Counsel contacted Plaintiff’s criminal defense attorney and accessed the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s online Inmate Information Center to confirm Plaintiff was incarcerated with the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles. Counsel confirmed Plaintiff’s address at least 30 days prior to filing her motion. (MC-052, Item #3(b).) The Court is also satisfied that Counsel has a compelling reason to withdraw as counsel given the breakdown of the attorney-client communication. (MC-052, Item #2.)

Plaintiff will not be prejudiced by Counsel’s withdrawal. The next hearing in this case is a hearing on an Order to Show Cause Re: Dismissal for failure to file proof of service of summons and complaint which is set for 12/07/22. There is no trial date set. There is sufficient time for Plaintiff to engage new counsel or to be ready to represent himself before his next hearing.