The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge
REQUEST TO STAY FURTHER PROCEEDINGS AND ORDER THEREON [PROPOSED] DATE: Sept. 21, 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 all further proceedings until February 1, 2010, 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 J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.*fn1 but had received no response by 2 p.m. on September 4, 2009. This request is based on the following:
1. Counsel for plaintiff contacted the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office on September 2, 2009, and was advised that trial is now scheduled for December 1, 2009, in the criminal action against claimants Rollie and Scharlynn Trout.
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. If this case proceeds at this time, claimants Rollie and Sharlynn Trout 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 February 1, 2010. 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 September 21, 2009, is continued to March 1, 2010, 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.