The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge
REQUEST FOR STAY OF FURTHER PROCEEDINGS AND ORDER THEREON [PROPOSED] DATE: June 15, 2009 TIME: 9:00 a.m. COURTROOM: 10
Plaintiff United States of America) requests that the Court enter an order extending the existing stay of further proceedings until August 31, 2009, because a related criminal case is still pending in El Dorado County (People v. Rollie William Trout and Scharlynn Trout, El Dorado County No. P08CRF0018). Plaintiff sought the input of claimants Rollie Trout, Scharlynn Trout, and Washington Mutual Bank ("WaMu") but had received no response by the end of the business day on June 1, 2009. This request is based on the following:
1. Counsel for plaintiff contacted the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office on June 1, 2009, and was advised that a Readiness and Settlement conference is now scheduled for July 17, 2009, in the criminal action against claimants Rollie and Scharlynn Trout. A jury trial is scheduled for August 11, 2009.
2. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 981(g)(1) and 21 U.S.C. § 881(i) the United States is entitled to a stay if the Court determines that civil discovery will adversely affect the ability of the government to conduct a related criminal investigation or the prosecution of a related case. The United States contends that the defendant real property was used to facilitate a violation of federal drug laws (possession with intent to distribute marijuana) and is therefore forfeitable to the United States. The United States intends to depose the Trouts about the claims they filed in this case and the facts surrounding the presence of over 37 pounds of processed marijuana on the defendant property. If discovery proceeds, claimants would be placed in the difficult position of either invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and losing the ability to protect their interest in the defendant property, or waiving their Fifth Amendment rights and submitting to depositions and potentially incriminating themselves in the pending criminal matter. If claimants invoke their Fifth Amendment rights, the United States will be deprived of the ability to explore the factual basis for the claims they filed in this action and the defenses raised in their Answers.
3. Claimants Rollie and Sharlynn Trout have previously stipulated to the stay of these proceedings (see Stipulation to Stay Further Proceedings filed herein on March 16, 2009) because of the pending state court prosecution. In that stipulation claimants advised the court that if this case is not stayed claimants will attempt to depose law enforcement officers who were involved in the execution of the state search warrant at the defendant property. Allowing depositions of these officers would adversely affect the ability of the El Dorado County authorities to conduct its related criminal prosecution.
4. Accordingly, the United States contends that proceeding with this action at this time has potential adverse affects on the prosecution of the related criminal case and/or upon claimants' ability to prove their claim to the property and to contest the government's allegations that the property is forfeitable. For these reasons, the United States requests that this matter be stayed until August 31, 2009. At that time the parties will advise the Court whether a further stay is necessary.
Good cause having been shown, the Status (Pretrial Scheduling) Conference scheduled for June 15, 2009, is continued to September 21, 2009, at 9:00 a.m. The parties shall submit a joint scheduling report fourteen days prior to the hearing and will advise the Court whether a further stay is necessary.
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