United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
M. CHEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
No. 32 Plaintiff Melvin Justice, Jr., proceeding pro se, has
filed a § 1983 action against the City and County of San
Francisco (“City” or “San
Francisco”), the San Francisco Police Department
(“SFPD”), and various police officers employed by
the SFPD. According to Mr. Justice, on or about September 22,
2016, certain police officers, inter alia,
unlawfully detained him, unlawfully administered a field
sobriety test, subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment,
physically assaulted him, coerced him into a blood draw,
and/or used excessive force on him.
initial case management conference was held in this case in
November 2019, at which only Mr. Justice and the City made an
appearance. See Docket No. 30 (minutes). At the
conference, the City explained that there was an ongoing
state criminal action against Mr. Justice based on the events
from September 22, 2016. The City also stated that a trial in
the state criminal action was due to go forward in December
2019 and represented that there were “overlapping
issues” between the state criminal action and the
instant action. Docket No. 30. The Court therefore stayed
proceedings in the case at bar until the next status
conference (set for January 30, 2020). See Docket
No. 30 (adding that “Plaintiff's legal
representation, exchange of Initial Disclosures, and service
of process are to be dismissed at next conference”).
pending before the Court is the City's motion to stay.
The City now seeks “a complete stay of the case,
” including but not limited to discovery, pending
completion of the state court criminal proceedings. Mot. at
2. The City has made this request because the trial in the
state criminal action has now been continued to February 10,
2020. See Def.'s RJN, Ex. B (docket sheet).
Court hereby GRANTS the City's motion to
stay. As an initial matter, the Court notes that Mr. Justice
did not file an opposition to the motion. The Court further
finds that a stay is warranted under Wallace v.
Kato, 549 U.S. 384 (2007), and Keating v. Office of
Thrift Supervision, 45 F.3d 322 (9th Cir. 1995).
See, e.g., Wallace, 549 U.S. at 393-94
(stating that, “[i]f a plaintiff files a false-arrest
claim before he has been convicted (or files any other claim
related to rulings that will likely be made in a pending or
anticipated criminal trial), it is within the power of the
district court, and in accord with common practice, to stay
the civil action until the criminal case or the likelihood of
a criminal case is ended”); Keating, 45 F.3d
at 324-25 (stating that “[t]he 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,
'” which “means the decisionmaker should
consider ‘the extent to which the defendant's fifth
amendment rights are implicated'” and further
should consider factors such as “(1) the interest of
the plaintiffs in proceeding expeditiously with this
litigation or any particular aspect of it, and the potential
prejudice to plaintiffs 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, ” etc.).
noted above, Mr. Justice's claims in the instant case
include claims that the police officers unlawfully detained
him and used excessive force against him. These issues will
likely be addressed in the state criminal proceedings against
Mr. Justice where the charges include, inter alia,
reckless driving, driving under the influence, and resisting
or obstructing a police officer. See, e.g.,
Martinez v. Cty. of Santa Clara, No.
16-CV-05626-LHK, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76155, at *9 (N.D.
Cal. May 18, 2017) (holding that a stay was warranted under
Wallace because “whether or not the officers
wrongfully used excessive force depends at least partly on
whether Plaintiff grabbed [officer] Jacquez and how long
Plaintiff continued to hold on to Jacquez, a factual issue
that will be addressed in the criminal proceedings”;
also, the state criminal action included a charge of battery
on officer Jacquez, which “requires a showing that
‘the custodial officer was acting within the scope of
his or her duties'” and “[t]he determination
whether Jacquez was acting within the scope of his duties
will be relevant to whether Jacquez used excessive force
the City's motion to stay is granted, and the hearing on
the motion is thereby VACATED. Proceedings
in this case are stayed pending completion of the trial in
the state criminal case against Mr. Justice.
Court also VACATES the further status
conference set for January 30, 2020, and continues the matter
to February 27, 2020, at 10:30 a.m. The
parties shall file a joint status conference statement by
February 20, 2020.
order disposes of Docket No. 32.