Washington v. Temple et al
ORDER granting 8 Motion to Stay until plaintiff's state criminal proceedings are concluded. This case is administratively closed, but Plaintiff may re-open her case by filing a motion to re-open after final disposition of her criminal case. Signed by Judge Billy Roy Wilson on 11/15/11. (kpr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
RYAN TEMPLE, individually, and in his
official capacity as a Police Officer in
Jacksonville, Arkansas, and
Pending is Defendants’ Motion to Stay Proceedings Pending Criminal Disposition. (Doc. No.
8). For the following reasons, the Motion is GRANTED.
On March 9, 2011, Plaintiff was arrested in Jacksonville, Arkansas, for misdemeanor
disorderly conduct and refusing to submit to arrest.1 During her arrest, Plaintiff was tased.2
On May 16, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of her
Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as a violation of the Arkansas Civil Rights
Plaintiff was convicted in Jacksonville District Court, but appealed, and is currently awaiting
a trial in Pulaski County Circuit Court on January 6, 2012.4 Defendant argues that Plaintiff’s civil
action should be stayed until her criminal case is fully adjudicated.5
Doc. No. 12.
Doc. No. 1.
Doc. No. 8.
The United States Supreme Court in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971) directed “federal
courts to abstain from hearing cases when (1) there is an ongoing state judicial proceeding which
(2) implicates important state interests, and when (3) that proceeding affords an adequate
opportunity to raise the federal questions presented.”6 “A federal court must not, save in exceptional
and extremely limited circumstances, intervene by way of either injunction or declaration in an
existing state criminal prosecution.”7 A bad faith exception exists when the prosecution is begun
to “retaliate for or discourage the exercise of constitutional rights.”8
“Civil tort actions are not appropriate vehicles for challenging the validity of outstanding
criminal judgments.”9 In Wallace, the Supreme Court stated 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.10
In this case, Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges that she was arrested “without a reasonable basis
to believe that [she] had committed a crime” and that Defendant Temple “utilize[d] excessive force
in effecting his arrest of [her].”11 In analyzing the requirements of Younger, it appears both parties
agree the first two requirements are met. There is an ongoing state criminal proceeding pending
against Plaintiff which implicates an important state interest -- whether Plaintiff violated a state law.
Norwood v. Dickey, 409 F.3d 901, 903 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing Fuller v. Ulland, 76 F.3d
957, 959 (8th Cir. 1996)).
Mershon v. Kyser, 852 F.2d 335, 337 (8th Cir. 1988) (citations omitted).
Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 392 (2007) (citing Heck v. Humphry, 512 U.S. 477, 486
Id. at 393-94 (citing Heck, 512 U.S. at 487-88, n.8).
Doc. No. 1.
Where the parties disagree is whether the proceeding affords an adequate opportunity to raise the
federal questions presented. While I agree that Plaintiff’s criminal prosecution does not afford her
the opportunity to litigate her excessive force claim, it allows her to challenge the legality of her
arrest. Furthermore, under the reasoning of Wallace and Heck, if Plaintiff was ultimately convicted,
but I was to find that her arrest was illegal, Heck would mandate a dismissal of her case because my
finding would imply that her conviction was invalid.12 However, if Plaintiff is acquitted, her claim
for illegal arrest may proceed before me.
Therefore, Defendant’s Motion is GRANTED (Doc. No. 8) and Plaintiff’s case is stayed
until her state criminal proceedings are concluded. This case is administratively closed, but Plaintiff
may re-open her case by filing a motion to re-open after final disposition of her criminal case.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 15th day of November, 2011.
/s/Billy Roy Wilson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
See Buford v. Wright, No. 3:10CV247-BSM 2011 WL 3758389, at *2 (E.D. Ark. Aug.
25, 2011) (finding that plaintiff’s claim of illegal arrest must be stayed and administratively
terminated until the conclusion of his criminal case).
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