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In re Brady

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

June 6, 2019

In re PAULINE A. BRADY, et al., Debtors,
v.
HON. CHARLES E. RENDLEN III, Appellee. ROSS H. BRIGGS Appellant, ROSS H. BRIGGS Petitioner,
v.
HON. CHARLES E. RENDLEN III, Respondent.

         In re Long, 4:18-cv-01441-JAR, In re Beard, 4:18-cv-01442-JAR, In re Moore, 4:18-cv-01443-JAR In re Logan, 4:18-cv-01444-JAR, In re Stewart, 4:18-cv-01445-JAR, In re Shields, 4:18-cv-01446-JAR

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOHN A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on the Honorable Charles E. Rendlen III's separate motions to dismiss filed in No. 4:18-cv-01440-JAR (“consolidated bankruptcy appeals”) and No. 4:18-cv-01402-JAR (“writ proceeding”). For the reasons set forth below, the motion to dismiss the consolidated bankruptcy appeals will be denied, and the writ proceeding will be dismissed without prejudice.

         I. Background

         These cases have a complex and complicated history. As relevant to the issues before the Court, on April 20, 2016, Judge Charles E. Rendlen[1] issued a 250-page order (“April 2016 Order”) sanctioning Ross Briggs in eight separate bankruptcy cases in which Briggs represented the debtor (“eight underlying bankruptcy cases”). Those sanctions included a prohibition from filing any new bankruptcy cases in this district. Briggs then engaged in considerable litigation challenging the April 2016 Order.

         In 2017, Briggs filed separate petitions for reinstatement to Chief Bankruptcy Judge Surratt-States and Chief District Court Judge Sippel. Both petitions were denied, and, on appeal, the Eighth Circuit directed Briggs to seek reinstatement directly from Judge Rendlen. In re Reed, 888 F.3d 930, 940 (2018). Thereafter, Briggs filed separate motions for reinstatement in the eight underlying bankruptcy appeals, as well as motions seeking the disqualification of Judge Rendlen from ruling on his reinstatement motions.

         On June 25, 2018, [2] Judge Rendlen denied the motion to disqualify, and on July 10, 2018, Judge Rendlen denied without prejudice Briggs' motion for reinstatement for failure to prosecute. On July 12, 2018, Briggs filed an expedited motion to consolidate the eight cases for purposes of appeal. However, the Bankruptcy Court denied the motion to consolidate because Briggs had not yet filed notices of appeal in the eight underlying bankruptcy cases, thus rendering the Bankruptcy Court unable to evaluate commonality of issues of law and fact.

         On July 25, 2018, Briggs filed a notice of appeal in one of the eight underlying bankruptcy cases, In re Reed. The appeal was assigned to Judge Hamilton, who struck the notice of appeal because Briggs sought to appeal two separate orders (the order denying his motion to disqualify and the order denying his motion for reinstatement), in violation of Local Bankruptcy Rule 8001(A). Judge Hamilton's Order striking Briggs' notice of appeal is on appeal before the Eighth Circuit. In re Reed, No. 18-2895 (8th Cir.).

         On August 23, 2018, Briggs filed a petition for writ of mandamus or prohibition, seeking an Order from the Court mandating that Judge Rendlen recuse himself from presiding over any matters related to the reinstatement of Briggs' full privileges to practice in the Bankruptcy Court or, alternatively, prohibiting Judge Rendlen from presiding over those matters. Then, on August 29, 2018, Briggs filed notices of appeal in the other seven underlying bankruptcy cases, appealing only Judge Rendlen's Order denying the motion to disqualify, and those cases are now before the undersigned.

         II. Arguments of the Parties

         In the motion to dismiss filed in the writ proceeding, Respondent argues that writs of mandamus are abolished under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 81 and cannot be used as a substitute for an appeal. (Writ Doc. No. 9).[3] Respondent also argues that a writ of prohibition can only be used in cases where the applicant has an unquestioned legal right to the performance of the duties sought and no other adequate remedy, which do not exist here.

         He also filed a motion to dismiss in the consolidated bankruptcy appeals, arguing that the consolidated appeals constitute an impermissible collateral attack on Judge Hamilton's Order striking the notice of appeal in In re Reed. (Bank. App. Doc. No. 14). Appellee further argues that because the Order denying disqualification is a final order in In re Reed, any order entered in these consolidated bankruptcy cases would be moot. Lastly, Appellee contends that the Court should hold the consolidated bankruptcy appeal in abeyance pending Briggs' appeal of Judge Hamilton's Order striking his notice of appeal in In re Reed.

         Briggs filed a consolidated response in opposition to the motions to dismiss. (Bank. App. Doc. No. 18). He argues that his consolidated bankruptcy appeal presents a ripe controversy that will repeat itself if not reviewed by the Court. Briggs further maintains that the issue of disqualification is not presently before the Eighth Circuit in his In re Reed appeal, and thus the consolidated bankruptcy appeal should not be held in abeyance or viewed as a collateral attack. As to the writ proceeding, Briggs contends that his petition for writ properly invokes the appellate jurisdiction of the Court over the Bankruptcy Court. Briggs further admits that if his consolidated bankruptcy appeal is properly before the Court, the writ proceeding is unnecessary and inappropriate.

         III. ...


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