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Nave v. Newman

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

June 9, 2016

BRANDI NAVE, Appellant/Cross-Appellee,
v.
HOWARD A. NEWMAN, Appellee/Cross-Appellant, and IN RE HOWARD A. NEWMAN, Annellant.

          Submitted November 12, 2015

         Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CAB-9433-12) (Hon. Michael L. Rankin, Motions Judge) and

         Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CAB-2582-08) (Hon. Judith N. Macaluso, Motions Judge)

          Stephen J. Stine was on the brief for appellant/cross appellee.

          Howard A. Newman was on the brief for appellee/cross appellant.

          BEFORE: Thompson and Easterly, Associate Judges; and Ferren, Senior Judge.

         JUDGMENT

         This case was submitted to the court on the transcript of record and the briefs filed, and without presentation of oral argument. On consideration whereof, and for the reasons set forth in the opinion filed this date, it is now hereby

         ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the judgments of the trial court are affirmed in both matters.

          OPINION

          PHYLLIS D. THOMPSON ASSOCIATE JUDGE.

         Before us are appeals from Superior Court orders in two related actions. The first, a breach-of-contract action, proceeded before the Honorable Judith N. Macaluso, who, in the appealed-from rulings, declined to alter or strike certain language she had used in an order denying a motion for sanctions. The other action, raising primarily a claim of abuse of process against both an adversary and the adversary's attorney, proceeded before the Honorable Michael L. Rankin. In the challenged rulings, Judge Rankin dismissed the claims against the attorney but declined to otherwise sanction the plaintiff. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm the trial court's judgments in both matters.

         I. Judge Macaluso's denial of Mr. Newman's First and Second Rule 60 Motions

         The matter that was before Judge Macaluso stems from a contract dispute in which Keith Britt, represented by Howard A. Newman, Esq., sued Brandi Nave, Esq., his former girlfriend, to recover money he had advanced to her. During the proceedings in that matter, Mr. Newman, as Mr. Britt's counsel, filed a motion for sanctions against Ms. Nave. On March 16, 2011, Judge Macaluso denied the motion for sanctions in an order (the "Sanctions Order") that explained that even if sanctions against Ms. Nave were otherwise warranted, the court would not impose the requested sanctions because Mr. Britt did "not come to resolution of the issue he presents with clean hands."[1] Mr. Britt appealed the order denying sanctions, and this court affirmed the order in a January 2013 Memorandum Opinion and Judgment (the "MOJ"). After our affirmance, Mr. Newman, now proceeding on his own behalf, filed a July 3, 2014, Motion for Relief (purportedly) pursuant to Super. Ct. Civ. R. 60 (b) (the "First Rule 60 Motion") in which he asked Judge Macaluso to strike certain passages from the Sanctions Order (passages that this court, in the MOJ, termed "non-load bearing" and therefore declined to review). Judge Macaluso denied Mr. Newman's First Rule 60 Motion on August 13, 2014. Thereafter, on August 18, 2014, Mr. Newman filed a Motion to Alter and Amend the August 13, 2014, Order, pursuant to Super. Ct. Civ. R. 59 and R. 60 (the "Second Rule 60 Motion"), again asking Judge Macaluso to delete from the Sanctions Order language that Mr. Newman argued "unfairly attacked his integrity" and was a "black eye" on him. Judge Macaluso denied the Second Rule 60 Motion on February 3, 2015. This appeal by Mr. Newman (in No.15-CV-143) followed. He argues that Judge Macaluso erred in not granting relief under Rules 60 (a) and (b). We review for abuse of discretion.[2]

         Super. Ct. Civ. R. 60 (a) provides in pertinent part that "[c]lerical mistakes in judgments, orders or other parts of the record and errors therein arising from oversight or omission may be corrected by the court at any time of its own initiative or on the motion of any party" (emphasis added). Super. Ct. Civ. R. 60 (b) provides in pertinent that "the court may relieve a ...


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