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Ramos v. United States Dep't of Justice

March 7, 2008

ANTHONY E. RAMOS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

Document No. 15

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING THE DEFENDANTS'MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

On December 18, 1997, the State Bar of Florida disbarred the pro se plaintiff from legal practice in that state. In a reciprocal disciplinary decision*fn1 issued on December 6, 2004, the Board of Immigration Appeals ("the Board") disbarred the plaintiff from practice before it, immigration courts and the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"). The plaintiff moved for the Board to reopen the disciplinary proceedings that resulted in his expulsion from practice and authorized publication of the disciplinary action against him. The Board denied that motion. The plaintiff now appeals to this court to review the Board's denial of his motion to reopen the proceedings, and he seeks a mandatory injunction*fn2 against the defendant,*fn3 requiring it to remove internet listings of his disbarrment during the pendency of the case. The defendant argues that the plaintiff is not entitled to any injunctive relief because he is not likely to succeed on the merits of his underlying claims, and it moves for summary judgment because there is no genuine issue of fact and because it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Because the Board properly considered and, in its discretion, denied the plaintiff's motion to reopen the disciplinary proceedings, the court grants the defendant's motion for summary judgment.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual History

The plaintiff is an attorney who formerly practiced law in the state of Florida. Admin. Record ("AR") at 000147 (Sup. Ct. of Fl. Order Dec. 18, 1997). As the result of numerous instances of professional misconduct including lying to a tribunal, misappropriation of client funds, forging client signatures, misrepresentation to successor counsel, improper collection of excessive fees and representing a client without authority, the Supreme Court of Florida disbarred the plaintiff from practice in that state on December 18, 1997. AR at 000148-162.

In addition to practicing law in Florida, the plaintiff has also entered his appearance on behalf of clients before the immigration courts within the DHS. AR at 000037-43. On December 6, 2004, the Board initiated reciprocal disciplinary proceedings and expelled the plaintiff from practicing before the Board, the immigration courts and the Department of Homeland Security. See AR at 000004-5. The plaintiff administratively challenged that decision through various filings, but the Board rebuffed his attempts because "[t]he final order of disbarrment [in Flordia] creat[ed] a rebuttable presumption that disciplinary sanctions should follow." Def.'s Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for Mandatory Inj. and Mot. for Summ. J. ("Def.'s Mot."), Ex. 1 at 2 (citing 8 C.F.R. § 1292.3(c)(3)). The Board concluded that the plaintiff failed to rebut this presumption. AR at 000245-46. The defendant subsequently published notice of the plaintiff's disbarrment on two webpages: one, a publication of the plaintiff's name in a list of attorneys who have been disciplined, and the other, an Executive Office of Immigration Review press release reporting that the plaintiff and other attorneys have been disciplined. Def.'s Mot. at 2.

B. Procedural History

The plaintiff initiated this action before the D.C. Circuit Court, but that court, lacking jurisdiction, transferred the case to this court on November 14, 2006. The plaintiff is now before this court, seeking review of the Board's refusal to reopen the disciplinary proceedings and asking the court to compel the defendants to remove internet postings that publicize the results of the Board's disciplinary proceedings.*fn4 On May 10, 2007, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which the plaintiff opposes. The court now considers that motion.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Diamond v. Atwood, 43 F.3d 1538, 1540 (D.C. Cir. 1995). To determine which facts are "material," a court must look to the substantive law on which each claim rests. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A "genuine issue" is one whose resolution could establish an element of a claim or defense and, therefore, affect the outcome of the action. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must draw all justifiable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor and accept the nonmoving party's evidence as true. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. A nonmoving party, however, must establish more than "the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of its position. Id. at 252. To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must show that the nonmoving party "fail[ed] to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at ...


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