United States District Court, D. Maryland
K. BREDAR, CHIEF JUDGE
Rubidia Artiga Carrero (“Plaintiff”) filed a
two-count complaint against Baltimore County Police Officer
Christopher Farrelly in his individual capacity and against
Baltimore County seeking declaratory relief and compensatory
damages stemming from her alleged unlawful arrest in 2014.
The Court previously disqualified Baltimore County Attorney
James Nolan from representing Officer Farrelly going forward
in this case, based on the apparent conflict of interest in
his joint representation of Officer Farrelly and the County.
Mr. Nolan subsequently filed a letter with the Court seeking
bifurcation as a means to continue to represent Officer
Farrelly. The Court construed this correspondence as a motion
for reconsideration of its disqualification Order and denied
it. Now pending before the Court is Baltimore County's
Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's previous Order
denying reconsideration of its disqualification Order.
(Baltimore Cty.'s Mot. for Recons. of January 4, 2018
Mem. and Order, ECF No. 62.) For the reasons set forth below,
the Motion will be denied.
currently pending Motion is the latest in a series of
attempts by Baltimore County to have its in-house attorneys
continue to represent both Officer Farrelly and the County
despite the apparent conflict of interest in such joint
representation. In its original Memorandum denying
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 33), the Court
sua sponte raised concerns with this joint
representation, suggesting that Mr. Nolan's ethical
obligation to each of his clients would require that he
assert a position (or positions) adverse to one (or both) of
his clients at some point in these proceedings. Indeed, the
Court was concerned that Mr. Nolan had already asserted a
position on behalf of the County that was materially adverse
to Officer Farrelly in his Motion to Dismiss. (Id.
at 30.) The Court, however, granted Mr. Nolan an opportunity
to show that he could continue to jointly represent
Defendants, conflict free.
Nolan filed a Motion cursorily dismissing the Court's
concerns regarding the apparent conflict generated by his
continued representation of Officer Farrelly and Baltimore
County. (Christopher Farrelly and Baltimore Cty.'s Mot.
Confirming Compliance with Rule 19-301.7 and Stating Why No.
Conflict Exists, ECF No. 40.) Attached to the Motion were
affidavits from Baltimore County and Officer Farrelly
purporting to give informed consent to their continued joint
representation in spite of the apparent conflict cited by the
Court. (ECF No. 40-2.) The Court denied the Motion and
disqualified Mr. Nolan from representing Officer Farrelly.
(Order, ECF No. 48.) The Court found that Mr. Nolan had not
addressed its “concerns with joint representation
moving forward, ” and instead “focuse[d]
exclusively on his previous arguments asserted in
Defendants' motion to dismiss.” (Mem., ECF No. 47,
at 5.) The Motion failed to “assuage the Court's
concerns because [it] [wa]s entirely disconnected from the
current posture of the case.” (Id.)
Court's primary concern, as expressed in its Memorandum
disqualifying counsel, stemmed from Mr. Nolan's argument
on behalf of the County regarding Officer Farrelly's
training. Mr. Nolan has failed to address this specific
concern in either his “bifurcation letter” or the
currently pending Motion for Reconsideration. Given the
significance of this issue, and the clear conflict that the
Court is now convinced it presents, the Court's previous
admonition bears repeating here:
[I]n the case's current posture, defense counsel
may assert that Officer Farrelly was adequately trained and
acted contrary to his training, thereby avoiding liability
for the County, or he may assert that Officer Farrelly's
training was inadequate, thereby shifting liability from the
officer to the County, but he may not assert both positions.
Moreover, and more troubling, by previously asserting that
Officer Farrelly was adequately trained, counsel has arguably
waived a defense that would otherwise be available to Officer
(ECF No. 47, at 7-8.) As will be explained infra,
upon further consideration, the Court believes that there is
an actual conflict based on Mr. Nolan's
unequivocal assertion on behalf of the County that it had
trained Officer Farrelly not to detain anyone solely on the
basis of a civil immigration violation.
the Court's disqualification Order, Mr. Nolan filed a
two-page letter with the Court, “to discuss Officer
Farrelly's representation going forward.”
(Correspondence dated Dec. 7, 2017, ECF No. 53.) Mr. Nolan
informed the Court that Officer Farrelly had “requested
that [Mr. Nolan] continue to represent him in this
matter.” (Id.) “To accommodate this
request, [Mr. Nolan] . . . ask[ed] the Court to allow [him]
to represent Officer Farrelly and to allow another attorney
from his office to represent Baltimore County.”
(Id.) The Court generously construed the letter as a
motion to reconsider its disqualification Order and denied
it, because the “sole ground for reconsideration
offered-potential bifurcation-d[id] not resolve the conflict
identified by the Court.” (Mem. & Order, ECF No.
Nolan subsequently filed another Motion, this time expressly
seeking reconsideration of the Court's Order denying his
informal request for bifurcation/reconsideration. That Motion
is currently pending before the Court.
Standard for Motion to Reconsider
Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) governs reconsideration of
orders that do not constitute final judgments in a case
(i.e., interlocutory orders). That rule provides that
“any order or other decision, however designated, that
adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and
liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the
action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised
at any time.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b). “The precise
standard governing a motion for reconsideration of an
interlocutory order is unclear.” Butler v.
DirectSAT USA, LLC, 307 F.R.D. 445, 449 (D. Md. 2015).
What is clear, is that such motions “are not subject to
the strict standards applicable to motions for
reconsideration of a final judgment” under
Rules 59(e) and 60(b). Am. Canoe Ass'n v. Murphy
Farms, Inc., 326 F.3d 505, 514 (4th Cir. 2003) (emphasis
added). “Although the standards articulated in Rules
59(e) and 60(b) are not binding in an analysis of Rule 54(b)
motions, courts frequently look to these standards for
guidance in considering such motions.” Butler,
307 F.R.D. at 449 (citations omitted). Under Rule 59(e), a
motion to amend a final judgment may be granted only
“(1) to accommodate an intervening change in
controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence not
available at trial; or (3) to correct a clear error of law or
prevent manifest injustice.” Hutchinson v.
Staton, 994 F.2d 1076, 1081 (4th Cir. 1993). And under
Rule 60(b), a court may grant relief from a final judgment or
order for the following reasons: “(1) mistake,
inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly
discovered evidence; (3) fraud or misconduct by the opposing
party; (4) voidness; (5) satisfaction; or (6) any other
reason that justifies relief.” Butler, 307
F.R.D. at 449 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)). Although there may
be many valid reasons to reconsider an order, “a motion
to reconsider is not a license to reargue the merits or
present new evidence” that was previously available to
the movant. Royal Ins. Co. of Am. v. Miles &
Stockbridge, P.C., 142 F.Supp.2d 676, 677 n.1 (D. Md.
2001) (citing RGI, Inc. v. Unified Indus., Inc., 963
F.2d 658 (4th Cir. 1992)).
Nolan asks that the Court reconsider its Order because
bifurcation “was not the sole ground for
reconsideration offered.” (ECF No. 62, ¶1.) He
argues that the County (in a letter seeking bifurcation which
failed to state any legal standard for bifurcation or
reconsideration) offered an alternative basis for
reconsideration because it stated that “[i]n all
events, the County will pay any judgments entered against
Officer Farrelly.” (ECF No. 53, at 2.) Mr. Nolan
contends that this promise, combined with the County's
position that Officer Farrelly acted within the scope of his
employment, informed consent from Officer Farrelly and the
County, and Officer Farrelly's ...