Gadda filed suit in District Court (N.D.Calif.) against the bar challenging his disbarment and the assessment of costs. The District Court held a hearing and then dismissed Gadda's complaint.
On appeal, the Court considered Gadda's argument that the retroactive application of a 2003 amendment to Calif. Bus. & Prof. Code §6086.10 was unconstitutional. The applicable section originally stated that costs incurred during a suspension/disbarment should be paid as a condition of reinstatement. In 2003, an amendment to the section permitted a money judgment to enforce any costs order.
The Court first determined that application of the amendment to Gadda was retroactive, because it affected his rights and obligations. It next had to determine whether the retroactive application was constitutional. The plain language of the statute did not indicate whether the legislature intended it to apply retroactively. As a result, the Court looked to legislative intent. There was evidence that the legislature intended for the amendment to apply to costs and assessments ordered but unpaid on the date the act became operative, and Gadda fell in to this category.
The Due Process clause requires that retrospective economic legislation only needs to survive a rational basis review. The Court determined that the purpose of the statute was a legitimate method to recover costs from disbarred attorneys who did not seek readmission to the bar. Furthermore, the amendment was rationally related to the aforementioned purpose since it provided a mechanism for the bar to obtain a money judgment.
Based on the foregoing reasons, the Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of Gadda’s complaint.
Judge(s): Jerome Farris, Robert Beezer, & Sidney Thomas
Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
Related Categories: Administrative Law , Civil Procedure
|Plaintiff Lawyer(s)||Plaintiff Law Firm(s)|
|Miguel Gadda||Pro Se|
|Defendant Lawyer(s)||Defendant Law Firm(s)|
|Michael Loewenfeldt||Kerr & Wagstaffe LLP|
|Edward A. Olsen||Office of the U.S. Attorney|
|Kevin V. Ryan||Office of the U.S. Attorney|
|Marie M. Moffat||The State Bar of California|
|Colin P. Wong||The State Bar of California|
|Lawrence C. Yee||The State Bar of California|
|Joann Swanson||U.S. Department of Justice|