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Hubbard v. United States

August 3, 2007

MURPHY M. HUBBARD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document No.: 2

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR INJUNCTIVERELIEF

I. INTRODUCTION

The pro se plaintiff brings suit, alleging that the Department of the Treasury wrongfully disbarred him from representing clients before the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS"). He asks the court to enjoin the defendants from enforcing his disbarrment until the court can review the agency's action on the merits. The plaintiff also seeks to prevent the defendants from advertising in public notices that he is disbarred. The defendants oppose the motion, arguing that the Department of the Treasury is statutorily authorized to suspend or disbar an individual from representing clients before the IRS after it provides the individual with notice and an opportunity to be heard. Moreover, the defendants argue that the plaintiff received notice and a "full-blown" hearing that satisfied its statutory obligations to the plaintiff. Because it concludes that the plaintiff has not demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, the court denies the plaintiff's motion for injunctive relief.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual History

The parties' briefing of the instant motion fails to provide the court the courtesy of a description of the relevant facts or dates. The court, therefore, relies on the parties' arguments, as best it can, and draws from the administrative record in constructing the facts pertinent to the present dispute.

The plaintiff is a certified public accountant who was previously qualified to represent clients appearing before the IRS. Administrative R. ("AR") at 8; Pl.'s Mot. for Emergency Temporary and Prelim. Relief ("Pl.'s Mot.") at 1. On April 16, 2002, the plaintiff received a letter from the IRS Office of Director of Practice advising him that the IRS had "information raising questions concerning possible violations . . . of the regulations governing practice before the Internal Revenue Service." AR at 1089. The defendants allowed the plaintiff 30 days to respond to the information and held further action on the matter in abeyance for that time. Id.

On April 13, 2003, the defendants initiated an administrative complaint against the plaintiff claiming that he failed to file federal income tax returns, both personal tax returns and corporate tax returns for the Hubbard Group, P.C., for 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000. AR at 265-66; Compl. at 2-3; Defs.' Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. ("Defs.' Opp'n") at 2-3. The IRS also charged the plaintiff with failing to deposit and pay employment taxes for the Hubbard Group, P.C. for several quarters. AR at 266. At some point later, the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility demanded that the plaintiff "voluntarily submit to a 40-month suspension." Compl. at 4. The plaintiff, presumably, refused the voluntary suspension. See Pl.'s Mot. at 3. As a result, the defendants sought the plaintiff's disbarrment.

Although the briefing of the administrative proceedings in this case is inadequate, the Administrative Record reveals that, on April 24, 2003, the proceedings were assigned to an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR at 34. The plaintiff subsequently received a hearing before an ALJ, and that ALJ ruled in favor of disbarrment on January 14, 2004. Id. at 265-77. "More than a year" later, the IRS published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin a notice that the plaintiff had been disbarred. Pl.'s Mot. at 5. The plaintiff appealed the ALJ's decision, and on August 30, 2004, the appellate ALJ issued a decision affirming the ALJ's decision in part and remanding it in part for additional findings. AR at 32-91. On remand, the ALJ held a hearing and, on July 1, 2005, issued his decision on remand. Id. at 230-64. The plaintiff again appealed, and on September 20, 2006, an appellate ALJ issued a final decision affirming the plaintiff's disbarrment. Id. at 24-30.

B. Procedural History

On January 4, 2007, the plaintiff filed suit to challenge his disbarrment. He simultaneously moved for injunctive relief, asking the court to prevent the IRS from either disbarring the plaintiff or issuing public notice of his disbarrment pending this court's review of his underlying challenge to the disbarrment. On March 30, 2007, nearly two months after receiving notice of the plaintiff's motion, the defendants opposed the ...


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