United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
W. James Mac Naughton, as assignee of Russian Media Group LLC, Plaintiff,
Shai Harmelech et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HONORABLE THOMAS M. DURKIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is a motion by Defendants Shai Harmelech and USA
Satellite & Cable, Inc. titled “Motion to Quash
Third Party Citation and Motion for Summary Judgment, ”
R. 448. Motions for summary judgment are govered by
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. However, Rule 56 is not the appropriate
vehicle for Defendants' motion. Defendants' motion is
more properly characterized as a request to deny W. James Mac
Naughton's pending motion to reopen this case, R. 451,
and to quash the various citations to discover assets filed
by Mac Naughton to enforce a judgment against Defendants.
See R. 411, 439, 440. For the following reasons,
Defendants' motion, R. 448, is granted, and Mac
Naughton's motion, R. 451, is denied.
Naughton previously represented Harmelech and USA Satellite
in this case in an action brought in 2006 by Russian
Media Group LLC. Mac Naughton and Defendants'
relationship ended in a dispute over legal
bills. Russian Media and Defendants (working with
different counsel) eventually settled this case.
in an attempt to gain leverage in pursuit of his fees, Mac
Naughton, through a holding company he controlled called
Casco Bay, then bought Russian Media's judgment against
his former clients-for $1 and release of a claim Mac Naughton
brought against Russian Media. R. 454-6 ¶ 2. Mac
Naughton then brought suit in this district against Harmelech
and USA Satellite to collect on the Russian Media judgment.
Mac Naughton v. Harmelech et. al., No. 14 C 10016
(N.D. Ill. filed Dec. 14, 2014). Judge Holderman disqualified
Mac Naughton from representing Casco Bay in its pursuit of
the assigned judgment. Id. at Dkt. 35 (N.D. Ill.
Mar. 17, 2015). Mac Naughton then caused Casco Bay to assign
the judgment to Mac Naughton personally. Mac Naughton now
seeks to collect on the Russian Media judgment in this 2006
case. He has also filed several other cases in this district
seeking to collect on that judgment under a number of
theories. See Mac Naughton v. Alden Mgmt. Servs., Inc.,
et al., No. 16 C 9027 (N.D. Ill. filed Sept. 18, 2016);
Mac Naughton v. Harmelech et al., No. 17 C 227 (N.D.
Ill. filed Jan. 11, 2017) (seeking to enforce judgment
through an alleged fraudulent conveyance of a condo in
Florida in which Harmelech's mother-in-law lives);
Mac Naughton v. Asher Ventures, LLC, No. 17 C 4050
(N.D. Ill. filed May 29, 2017) (alleging Harmelech
fraudulently concealed ownership of stock and seeking to levy
the stock to enforce the judgment).
hearing before this Court on January 4, 2018, the Court
expressed concern about Mac Naughton's ethical
obligations to his former clients and the impropriety of his
attempt to enforce the judgment against them. Judge Feinerman
raised the same concern and recently issued an opinion
holding that Mac Naughton is violating Judge Holderman's
order by continuing to pursue the Russian Media judgment.
Mac Naughton v. Harmelech et. al., No. 14 C 10016 at
Dkt. 242 (June 5, 2018). The Court adopts Judge
Feinerman's reasoning. Mac Naughton may not disregard his
obligations as a previous attorney for defendants Harmelech
and USA Satellite by seeking to enforce a judgment against
those same clients he previously represented, in the very
case in which he represented them.
1.9(a) of the New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct states
that “a lawyer who has represented a client in a matter
shall not thereafter represent another client in the same or
a substantially related matter in which that client's
interests are materially adverse to the interests of the
former client . . . .” Rule 1.9(a) describes the
circumstances here. Mac Naughton previously represented
Defendants in this matter. He now seeks to represent another
client (himself) in the same or substantially related matter
in which his interests are materially adverse to the
interests of his former clients (i.e. collection of the
judgment against his former clients, the Defendants).
Although there is a dearth of on-point case law addressing
this issue (perhaps because Mac Naughton's conduct is so
obviously wrong that no one else has been bold enough to try
it),  courts in both Illinois and New Jersey
have disqualified counsel for less egregious conflicts.
See In re Marriage of Newton, 955 N.E.2d 572, 588
(Ill.App.Ct. 1st Dist. 2011) (disqualifying counsel and
rendering retainer agreement void ab initio when
attorneys met with one spouse and then knowingly represented
the other spouse in divorce proceedings); United States
v. Alex, 788 F.Supp. 359, 365 (N.D. Ill. 1992)
(disqualifying attorney who represented both the defendant
and the defendant's victims); State v. Ross,
2014 WL 563661, at *5 ( N.J.Super.Ct.App.Div. Feb. 13, 2014)
(attorney could not represent defendant when he previously
represented a potential witness in an incident directly
related to the case).
have an ethical duty to their clients and the legal system.
They may not represent interests that are materially adverse
to the interests of their former clients, regardless of
whether they are representing themselves or other clients.
“The Rules of Professional Conduct recognize that the
practice of law is a public trust and lawyers are the
trustees of the judicial system.” In re Marriage of
Newton, 955 N.E.2d at 588. The case remains
 Mac Naughton brought suit in New
Jersey state court against his former clients Harmelech and
USA Satellite for unpaid legal fees. Mac Naughton was
eventually fully compensated when Harmelech satisfied the
judgment. R. 454 ¶ 4 (Harmelech attested that the New
Jersey judgment has been satisfied in full; Mac Naughton does
not deny that statement).
 The Illinois Rule of Professional
Conduct 1.9(a) is nearly identical: “A lawyer who has
formerly represented a client in a matter shall not
thereafter represent another person in the same or a
substantially related matter in which that person's
interests are materially adverse to the interests of the
former client unless the former client gives informed
consent.” Ill. S.Ct. Rs. Prof'l Conduct
 As Judge Feinerman stated, “the
court need not address whether it has the inherent authority
to prohibit Mac Naughton from seeking in court to collect the
RMG judgment from his former clients. The court's
research has revealed no cases addressing that precise issue,
likely because no attorney before now has had the audacity to
purchase from that attorney's litigation opponent a
judgment entered against his or her own client and then
attempt to enforce that judgment against the ...