The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge
STIPULATION TO STAY FURTHER PROCEEDINGS AND ORDER THEREON [PROPOSED]
The plaintiff United States of America and claimants Chase Home Finance LLC ("Chase") and Erlinda Pickle, individually and in her capacity as Conservator of the Estate of Thomas A. Pickle, submit the following stipulation requesting that this Court stay further proceedings in this case because a related criminal case is still pending in Trinity County against James and Thomas Pickle.*fn1
Counsel for plaintiff spoke with Trinity County Deputy District Attorney Eric Heryford on September 2, 2010, who advised her that James Pickle's preliminary hearing is currently scheduled for October 2, 2010. Mr. Heryford also stated it is unlikely that a trial date will be scheduled before January 1, 2011.
This stipulation is based on the following:
1. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 981(g)(1), (g)(2) and 21 U.S.C. § 881(i) the parties suggest that a stay of further proceedings in this case is necessary. The United States contends that the defendant real property was used to cultivate, process, and store marijuana and is therefore forfeitable to the United States. The United States intends to depose claimant Erlinda Pickle about the claim she filed in this case and the facts surrounding Thomas's (her husband's) and James Pickle's drug activity on the defendant property; the nature of the interest she claims in the defendant property*fn2 ; and her knowledge, if any, of the criminal activity on the property.
Plaintiff also intends to depose James Pickle.
However, if discovery proceeds, James Pickle will undoubtedly invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination while the state charges are still pending. If James Pickle invokes his Fifth Amendment rights, the United States will be deprived of the testimony of an important witness to Thomas Pickle's criminal conduct, and possibly to claimant Erlinda Pickle's knowledge (or lack thereof) of that conduct.
2. In addition, if this case is not stayed claimant Pickle will attempt to depose law enforcement officers who were involved in the execution of the search warrants at the defendant property. Allowing depositions of these officers would adversely affect the ability of the Trinity County authorities to conduct its related criminal prosecution.
3. Accordingly, the parties contend that proceeding with this action at this time has potential adverse affects on the prosecution of the related criminal case and/or upon claimant Erlinda Pickle's ability to prove her claim to the property and to contest the government's allegations that the property is forfeitable. For these reasons, the parties request that this matter be stayed for a period of six months. At that time the parties will advise the Court whether a further stay is necessary.
BENJAMIN B. WAGNER United States Attorney KRISTIN S. DOOR Assistant U.S. Attorney ROUTH CRABTREE OLSEN, P.S. (As authorized on 09/02/10) Edward T. Weber Attorneys for Chase Home Finance LLC
RICHARD M. BARNETT (As authorized on 09/02/10) Attorney for Erlinda Pickle, Individually and as the Conservator of ...