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Tyrell L. Hicks v. William Swanhart et al

December 10, 2012

TYRELL L. HICKS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WILLIAM SWANHART ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bongiovanni, Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the Court upon Defendants' motion to stay all proceedings in this matter pending resolution of Plaintiff Tyrell L. Hicks' appeal of his criminal conviction currently before the New Jersey Appellate Division. The Court has fully reviewed and considered all of the papers submitted in support of and in opposition to Defendants' Motion, and considers same without oral argument pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 78. For the reasons set forth more fully below, Defendants' motion to stay is GRANTED.

I. Factual Background

This case arises out of a January 28, 2010 arrest of Plaintiff for which he was subsequently convicted on February 1, 2011 of Driving While Intoxicated, Refusing to Submit to a Breath Test, possession of an Open Alcoholic Beverage Container in a Motor Vehicle and Failing to Wear a Seatbelt. Defendants' Brief in Support, [Docket Entry No. 15-1, *5]. Plaintiff brought the instant action on January 30, 2012 in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Mercer County, Law Division and the case was thereupon removed to Federal Court. Plaintiff's civil case alleges that his January 2010 arrest constituted an illegal search and seizure and false arrest in violation of 42 U.S.C. §1983 and further alleges a violation of 18 U.S.C. §241.*fn1 Id. at *6. During a telephone conference with this Court held on September 4, 2012, Plaintiff indicated that he had filed an appeal of his criminal conviction with the New Jersey Appellate Division. Id. at *7. That appeal is currently pending.

II. Arguments

Defendants argue that the instant case should be stayed until Plaintiff's pending appeal in the New Jersey Appellate Division is decided. Id. Defendants cite to Walsh Securities, Inc. v. Cristo Property Management, Ltd., 7 F.Supp.2d 523, 526 (D.N.J. 1998) which enumerates six factors to be considered in evaluating whether or not to grant a stay. They are as follows:

1. The extent to which the issues in the criminal and civil cases overlap;

2. The status of the case, including whether the defendants have been indicted;

3. The plaintiff's interest in proceeding expeditiously weighted against the prejudice to plaintiff caused by a delay;

4. The private interests of and burden on defendants;

5. The interests of the court; and

6. The public interest.

Defendants' Brief in Support, [Docket Entry No. 15-1, *8], quoting Walsh, 7 F.Supp.2d at 527. Defendants argue that each factor falls in their favor especially in light of the holding in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) which held that a §1983 claim is usually barred if the criminal conviction of the civil plaintiff still stands. (Emphasis added). Therefore, Defendants argue that extensive discovery on the issue of the §1983 claim would be a waste of time and resources if the criminal conviction is ultimately upheld. Id.

Alternatively, if Plaintiff's conviction is vacated, reversed, or otherwise expunged, Defendants argue that a stay of the proceedings would not result in a detriment to Plaintiff, as his §1983 claim will either be 1) foreclosed, saving the need for discovery on the issue; or 2) bolstered, in which case discovery on the §1983 claim will be resumed at that time and Plaintiff's case on that count will be stronger in light of the disposed conviction. Id. at 12. Defendants further argue that, should discovery continue, it would cause a burden to them because, pending the criminal appeal, the §1983 claim may be moot and that discovery on this issue now could result in possible unnecessary litigation costs. Id. at 13. Defendants additionally argue that the interests of the Court and ...


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