By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A federal judge has cited Brooklyn solo practitioner Joel Gluck for contempt and possible disciplinary action for failure to follow court orders.
In 2011, Gluck, a labor and employment attorney, filed a civil rights complaint against Pep Boys Auto on behalf of his client, a former Pep Boys employee. A year later, Pep Boys asked for the complaint to dismissed because of Gluck’s “discovery deficiencies” and “multiple violations” of court orders. Gluck had “excuses for… violating a court order[s]… but ha[d] no explanation,” for the violations. Pep Boys requested the complaint be dismissed due to Gluck’s failure to prosecute the civil rights claims.
The original presiding Magistrate Judge, Roanne Mann, declined the request to dismiss the case and ordered Gluck to pay sanctions. Gluck’s initial check of $5,266 for the sanctions was returned for insufficient funds, and Mann again ordered Gluck to pay the sanctions with a bank or certified check. This order was not followed.
After repeated failures to comply with court orders, Mann issued a Report & Recommendation in January 2013 recommending that the Gluck be barred from bringing an action against Pep Boys on the same claim, be held in contempt if he continues to fail to pay the previously imposed sanctions, and be referred to a disciplinary committee for disciplinary action "given [Gluck’s] continued contumacious conduct."
In an affidavit, Gluck noted that his failure to send a replacement check was a result of financial distress. “I have been barely able to maintain my office,” Gluck wrote. “I am a solo practitioner with a small office staff. I have drawn no salary from the office for more than a year. I have simply covered my own personal expenses." Gluck suggested that Pep Boys start collection actions to recover the sanctions payment.
The federal district court reviewed Mann’s recommendations and agreed in part. Eastern District Judge Margo K. Brodie, writing for the court, found Gluck’s “continuous and flagrant flouting of Judge Mann's orders is reprehensible.” Brodie found that “when monetary sanctions were imposed, [Gluck] continued to ignore court orders.”
Furthermore, Gluck’s insistence that Pep Boys use collection efforts to recover the imposed sanctions “only further demonstrates [Gluck’s] willful disregard for the orders issued by the judges of this Court," Brodie continued. As such, Brodie adopted Mann’s recommendation that Gluck be held in contempt of court and reported to the disciplinary committee.
Gluck did not challenge the recommendation that he be held in contempt of court and reported to the relevant disciplinary committee. He did, however, object to Judge Mann's recommendation that his client’s civil rights complaint against Pep Boys be dismissed; Brodie agreed.
"Although the conduct of Mr. Gluck in ignoring Judge Mann's orders has been egregious," Brodie wrote, "dismissal of the Complaint with prejudice where the continued failure to comply with court orders is attributable to Mr. Gluck rather than [his client] would be unduly harsh."
Brodie referred Gluck’s case to Chief Judge for the Eastern District Carol Bagley Amon for referral to the Committee on Grievances for possible disciplinary proceedings.