Atlanta federal Judge Leigh Martin May enjoined the SEC from proceeding in yet another administrative enforcement action Tuesday. Ironridge Global IV, Ltd. v. SEC, No. 1:15-CV-2512 (USDC NDGA Nov. 17, 2015).
SEC ALJ Grimes had refused to dismiss or stay the administrative proceeding and that hearing was scheduled to commence December 7. The SEC charged Ironridge last June under the ’34 Act for allegedly operating as an unregistered broker-dealer by its provision of “Liability for Equity” transactions with 28 microcap issuers. The OIP is here.
As before, the Court held it had subject-matter jurisdiction under the Supreme Court’s Free Enterprise decision, rejecting the SEC’s “settled” precedent to the contrary from the Thunder Basin line of cases. A Circuit split may be shaping up on that issue, since the Seventh and DC Circuits have agreed with the SEC that they do not have subject matter jurisdiction over such challenges. Bebo v. SEC, No. 15-1511, 2015 WL 4998489 (7th Cir. Aug. 24, 2015). Two months ago, the D.C. Circuit reached the same conclusion in Jarkesy v. SEC, No. 14-5196 (D.C. Cir. Sept. 29, 2015). Judge May also held Ironridge was likely to succeed on the merits of its Appointments Clause argument regarding SEC ALJs.
Judge May previously enjoined SEC administrative actions in the Hill and Gray matters. The SEC’s appeals in those cases are pending before the Eleventh Circuit.
We’ve been following the issue, here.