“Beats all!” – short for “beats all I’ve ever seen” – applies to the situation and not Judge Walker’s decision as he clearly made the only lawful call possible. Motions to withdraw are fairly common and hardly newsworthy. However, when the withdrawing counsel was a party’s entire legal team and there is no corresponding notice of appearance filed by another attorney, the news value increases.
Laurel, Mississippi attorney Robert Gholson, the apparently- eager-to-withdraw but honorable counsel representing Rigsby qui tam defendant Forensic Analysis Engineering Corporation (FAEC), as the “new kid on the block” in a November 22, 2008, update on the case published just week’s after Gohlson’s November 6th Notice of Appearance.
My quick review of the Rigsby docket found no indication of prior representation for FAEC; however, most, if not all, other defendants had counsel of record shortly by April and the Rigsbys’ had new counsel in place in early August. Since FAEC had also been a defendant in McIntosh v State Farm, I went to that docket and confirmed the Company’s counsel in McIntosh represents Haag Engineering in the qui tam case.
In support of the motion, Gholson and…[and Associate]…Wallace indicate that professional considerations require termination of the attorney-client relationship but that ethical considerations prevent counsel from disclosing the specific factual grounds for the requested withdrawal.
There is certainly nothing but logic to suggest those “professional considerations” and “ethical grounds” indicate Gohlson learned the horse he was riding was no longer a horse with no name. If you need more clues to the horse’s name, wait a bit longer and you’ll find a few in Forked! “Bifurcation for Dummies”, part two. (coming soon)
As the text of the Order and timeline below indicate, Judge Walker gave defendant Forensic well over a month to obtain new counsel and made his decision based on the law and his responsibility to keep the case on schedule:
The motion to withdraw was filed on February 11, 2010. Substitute counsel has not made an entry of appearance. Although 28 U.S.C. § 1654 authorizes individuals to proceed pro se, courts regularly have held that corporations are not permitted to appear in court otherwise than by licensed counsel. See Rowland v. California Men’s Colony, 506 U.S. 194, 202 (1993).
Accordingly, the Court finds that the  Motion to Withdraw is DENIED subject to rereurging once Forensic obtains substitute counsel.
February 11, 2009
MOTION to Withdraw as Attorney by Forensic Analysis Engineering Corporation (Gholson, Robert) (Entered: 02/11/2010)
NOTICE of Hearing on…MOTION to Withdraw as Attorney :Telephonic Motion Hearing set for 2/25/2010 09:00 AM before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker WITH ONLY ATTORNEY ROBERT GHOLSON, who will place the call to Judge Walker’s Chambers. No other counsel are necessary for this motion hearing.(JR) (Entered: 02/23/2010)
MOTION for Extension of Time to File Expert Designations by Forensic Analysis Engineering Corporation (Gholson, Robert) (Entered: 03/02/2010)
TEXT ONLY ORDER granting Motion for Extension of Time to File Expert Designations. In light of counsel’s pending motion to withdraw, Forensic Analysis Engineering is granted an extension of time in which to file its expert designations. It is therefore ordered and adjudged that Forensic Analysis Engineering shall file its expert designations on or before 4/2/2010. No further written order will issue from the Court. Signed by Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker on March 3, 2010 (King, Steve) (Entered: 03/03/2010)