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Jane Doe v. City of San Diego

December 7, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge


Defendant Anthony Arevalos ("Arevalos") seeks an order staying all civil proceedings in this action pending completion of a related criminal appeal. [Doc. No. 41.] All other defendants (collectively "Defendants") joined the motion. [Doc. No. 43.] Plaintiff Jane Doe ("Plaintiff") opposes the motion [Doc. No. 44], and Defendants filed two separate replies [Doc. Nos. 45, 47]. For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion.


This case involves the alleged criminal conduct of former San Diego Police Officer Anthony Arevalos. Plaintiff alleges that on March 8, 2011, Arevalos, an on-duty police officer, pulled her over for failing to activate her turn signal. (Second Amended Complaint ["SAC"], ¶ 1.) Plaintiff alleges that Arevalos then led her to a 7-Eleven bathroom where he forced Plaintiff to engage in explicit sexual acts. (Id. ¶¶ 1, 26.) The next day, Plaintiff called the San Diego Police Department and reported the incident.

Subsequently, Arevalos was charged and convicted of multiple sex crimes in connection with the March 8 incident. Arevalos is currently appealing his conviction, while serving an eight-year sentence under the care of the California Department of Corrections.

On February 9, 2012, Plaintiff filed a civil complaint in San Diego County Superior Court, naming the City of San Diego and Arevalos as defendants. Later, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint further naming Chief William Lansdowne, Chief David Bejarano, and Sergeant Kevin Friedman as defendants. On March 21, 2012, Defendants removed the action to this Court. Plaintiff then filed a Second Amended Complaint, alleging a variety of state and federal claims, and adding Lieutenant Rudy Tai and Sergeant Danny Hollister as defendants. On October 11, 2012, Arevalos filed the pending motion to stay.

Following his criminal conviction, Arevalos filed a timely notice of appeal with the Court of Appeals for the State of California. Arevalos filed his opening brief with the Court of Appeals on September 13, 2012. There is currently no date set for resolution of the appeal.


"The Constitution does not ordinarily require a stay of civil proceedings pending the outcome of criminal proceedings." Keating v. Off. of Thrift Supervision, 45 F.3d 322, 324 (9th Cir. 1995). This is because simultaneous parallel civil and criminal proceedings are not objectionable, in the absence of substantial prejudice to the rights of the parties involved. Id. "Nevertheless, a court may decide in its discretion to stay civil proceedings when the interests of justice seem to require such action." Id. (alterations and internal quotation marks omitted). The proponent of a stay bears the burden of establishing its need. Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 708 (1997).

"The decision whether to stay civil proceedings in the face of a parallel criminal proceeding should be made 'in light of the particular circumstances and competing interests involved in the case.'" Keating, 45 F.3d at 324 (quoting F. Sav. & Loan Ins. Corp. v. Molinaro, 889 F.2d 899, 902 (9th Cir. 1989)). The court should first consider "the extent to which the defendant's fifth amendment rights are implicated." Id. at 324-25. In addition, the court should generally consider the following factors: (1) the interest of the plaintiff in proceeding expeditiously with the litigation or any particular aspect of it, and the potential prejudice to plaintiff of a delay; (2) the burden which any particular aspect of the proceedings may impose on defendants; (3) the convenience of the court in the management of its cases, and the efficient use of judicial resources; (4) the interests of persons not parties to the civil litigation; and (5) the interest of the public in the pending civil and criminal litigation. Id.

A stay of an action is not necessary where a defendant's fifth amendment rights can be protected through less drastic means, such as asserting the privilege on a question-by-question basis and implementing protective orders. O. Thronas, Inc. v. Blake, 2010 WL 931924, at *3 (D. Hawaii Mar. 10, 2010).

Where trial in the parallel criminal proceeding has concluded, and a conviction is being challenged on appeal, courts are generally more reluctant to stay parallel civil proceedings. See Milton Pollack, Parallel Civil and Criminal Proceedings, 129 F.R.D. 201, 204 (1989) ("[T]he appeal process is an uncertain, potentially long-ranging, process. Only unusual circumstances would justify an order staying a post-conviction civil proceeding."); see also General Dynamics Corp. v. Selb Mfg. Co., 481 F.2d 1204, 1215 (8th Cir. 1973) (upholding the denial of an indefinite stay of civil proceedings sought after conviction but during appeal); Arden Way Associates v. Boesky, 660 F. Supp. 1494 (S.D.N.Y. 1987) (stay not warranted where defendant had already entered a guilty plea and where the court could prevent prejudice by granting leave to amend the civil answer and permit the assertion of counterclaims).


Defendant's motion is based on four grounds, namely that: (1) Arevalos' fifth amendment rights would be substantially implicated by proceeding with this action; (2) a stay is necessary to protect the other Defendants' interests; (3) a stay would conserve judicial resources; and (4) a stay ...

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