IMPERIAL CREDIT CORPORATION DBA A.I. CREDIT CORPORATION, A NEW HAMPSHIRE CORPORATION; AND THOMAS VAIL, Petitioners,
THE EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT OF THE STATE OF NEVADA, IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF CLARK; AND THE HONORABLE JESSIE ELIZABETH WALSH, DISTRICT JUDGE, Respondents, and LEERAD, LP; VIRGINIA BELT; AND PATRICIA MCGILL, Real Parties in Interest
Original petition for a writ of mandamus challenging a district court order denying a motion to associate out-of-state counsel.
Snell & Wilmer, LLP, and Kelly H. Dove and Leon F. Mead, II, Las Vegas, for Petitioners.
Rainey Legal Group, PLLC, and Patrick C. McDonnell and Charles C. Rainey, Las Vegas, for Real Parties in Interest.
BEFORE HARDESTY, DOUGLAS and CHERRY, JJ.
Following the departure of their attorney from the law firm representing them, petitioners sought to associate out-of-state counsel in the underlying action. Although these attorneys met all of SCR 42's requirements
for admission to practice, the district court denied the motion to associate, out of concern that granting the request would delay the imminent start of trial and because petitioners failed to show that out-of-state counsel were better able to handle the case than their local counsel. The question we must determine is whether a district court may deny a motion to associate out-of-state counsel who satisfy all of SCR 42's requirements. We conclude that such motions should generally be granted as a matter of course and that, in resolving such a request, the district court should typically limit its analysis to the requirements for admission set forth in SCR 42.
In the instant petition, we hold that the possibility of delay did not provide a valid basis for denying the association request, as petitioners repeatedly stated that they did not wish to delay trial and the district court itself can control whether a delay occurs through its resolution of any requests to continue the trial. Further, any reliance by the district court on petitioners' purported failure to prove that out-of-state counsel was more capable of handling their case was improper, as SCR 42 contains no such requirement. The denial of the motion to associate was therefore an arbitrary and capricious exercise of the district court's discretion, and extraordinary relief was warranted to compel the district court to reverse this determination.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Petitioners Imperial Credit Corporation, d.b.a. A.I. Credit Corporation, and Thomas Vail (collectively, Imperial Credit) were initially represented by Andras Babero of the law firm Black & Lobello in the defense of a lawsuit filed by real parties in interest Leerad LP, Virginia Belt, and Patricia McGill (collectively, Leerad). Several months before trial was scheduled to commence, Babero resigned his employment with Black & Lobello and a newly hired attorney at the firm was assigned to Imperial Credit's case. Concerned that new counsel was not sufficiently familiar with its insurance premium financing business to adequately represent it, Imperial Credit retained out-of-state attorneys Cynthia G. Burnside and A. Andre Hendrick, both of whom had previously handled similar cases for the company. After Burnside and Hendrick complied with SCR 42(3)-(4)'s procedural requirements for out-of-state attorneys seeking admission to practice in Nevada courts, the company's local counsel filed in the district court a motion to associate Burnside and Hendrick. See SCR 42(3)(c).
Without conducting a hearing on the motion, the district court summarily denied it citing only SCR 42(6), which places the decision to grant or deny a motion to associate within the district court's discretion. Imperial Credit subsequently sought reconsideration of that ...