969 F.2d 915 (10th Cir. 1992), 91-7133, Green v. Dorrell

Docket Nº:91-7133.
Citation:969 F.2d 915
Party Name:Rickke L. GREEN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. David DORRELL, Jerry Brown, James Walters, Mark Aldridge, James L. Franklin, Paul Rogers, J. Mike Pruitt, Danny Nance, Tom Lovlace, Bobby Boone, James L. Saffle, Gary Parsons, Gary Maynard, Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:July 09, 1992
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

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969 F.2d 915 (10th Cir. 1992)

Rickke L. GREEN, Plaintiff-Appellant,


David DORRELL, Jerry Brown, James Walters, Mark Aldridge,

James L. Franklin, Paul Rogers, J. Mike Pruitt, Danny Nance,

Tom Lovlace, Bobby Boone, James L. Saffle, Gary Parsons,

Gary Maynard, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 91-7133.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

July 9, 1992

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Rickke L. Green, plaintiff-appellant, pro se.

Susan B. Loving, Atty. Gen. of Okl., and Robert M. Anthony, Asst. Atty. Gen., Oklahoma City, Okl., for defendants-appellees.

Before MOORE, TACHA and BRORBY, Circuit Judges.

TACHA, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff-appellant Rickke L. Green appeals an order of the district court granting appellees' motion to dismiss. 1 On appeal, Green contends that the district court abused its discretion in dismissing his complaint. He also asserts that the district court erred in not ruling on his motion for recusal. We exercise jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and affirm.

Green's complaint, filed on August 5, 1991 and brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleged that appellees violated his civil rights. On October 7, 1991, Green filed a motion to substitute counsel and named the attorney requested as a substitute. On October 15, 1991, appellees filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, a motion for summary judgment. Green filed a motion to dismiss counsel on October 28, 1991. On November 12, 1991, Green's counsel filed an application to withdraw and a request for extension of time.

Three days later, on November 15, 1991, Green filed a motion requesting that the language naming a substitute attorney in his motion to substitute counsel be stricken. On December 13, 1991, the district court entered an order denying Green's motion to dismiss counsel, an order denying Green's counsel's application to withdraw

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and request for extension of time, and an order granting appellees' motion to dismiss. On that same day, Green also filed a motion for recusal, which the district court did not address.

Although we construe Green's pleadings liberally because he is a pro se litigant, he nevertheless must follow the same rules of procedure that govern other litigants. See King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir.1987). The district court granted appellees' motion to dismiss because Green failed to comply with Local Rule 14(a) of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma. Local Rule 14(a) provides that a party must file a memorandum in opposition to a motion "within ten days after the filing of the motion. Failure to comply with this paragraph will constitute waiver of objection by the party not complying, and such failure to comply will constitute a confession of the matters raised by such pleadings." Further, Local Court Rule 4(i) specifically provides for withdrawal of counsel from a case. It states that

[i]n civil or criminal actions, wherein appearance is made through counsel, there shall be no withdrawal by counsel except by leave of Court upon reasonable notice to the client and all other parties who have appeared in the case. Withdrawal of counsel may be granted subject to the condition that subsequent papers may continue to be served upon the counsel for forwarding purposes or upon the Clerk of the Court, as the Court may direct, unless and until the client appears by other counsel or in propria persona.

Because Fed.R.Civ.P. 11 provides that "[e]very pleading, motion, and other paper of a party represented by an attorney shall be signed by at least one attorney," it is clear that a represented party must have his current counsel file a motion to withdraw counsel.

Green contends that dismissal of his claim results in an impermissibly harsh application of the local rule. Although dismissal is indeed a drastic sanction, we have repeatedly upheld dismissals in situations where the parties themselves neglected their cases or refused to obey court orders. See Ocelot Oil Corp. v. Sparrow Industries, 847 F.2d 1458, 1464 (10th Cir.1988) (citing Sheftelman v. Standard Metals Corp., 839 F.2d 1383, 1387 (10th Cir.1987)); Gates v. United States, 752 F.2d 516 (10th Cir.1985); Mertsching v. United States, 704 F.2d 505 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 829, 104 S.Ct. 105, 78 L.Ed.2d 108 (1983); Ohio v. Arthur Anderson & Co., 570 F.2d 1370 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 833, 99 S.Ct. 114, 58 L.Ed.2d 129 (1978).

In Meade v. Grubbs, 841 F.2d 1512 (10th Cir.1988), we reviewed a dismissal based on a similar local rule. The plaintiff in Meade filed a pro se complaint on July 3, 1984, alleging physical violence, emotional distress and denial of medical care by three Oklahoma County sheriffs. He twice amended the complaint to alter allegations and the names...

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