Quinn v. Ortiz et al

Filing 27

ORDER signed by Judge John A. Mendez on 6/30/15 ORDERING that Defendants' MOTION TO STAY 21 is GRANTED. All upcoming dates are VACATED and the parties are ordered to file a joint status report within 30 days of the resolution of the criminal resisting an executive officer charge.(Mena-Sanchez, L)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 TYLER B. QUINN, 12 13 14 15 16 No. 2:14-cv-00744 JAM CMK Plaintiff, v. ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO STAY RICHARD ORTIZ, individually and in his official capacity; and CITY OF ALTURAS, ex rel. the ALTURAS CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT, 17 Defendants. 18 19 This case arises out of an incident between Plaintiff, Tyler 20 Quinn, and Defendant, Richard Ortiz, an officer with the City of 21 Alturas Police Department. 22 Hearing (12/17/2013), Pl.’s Ex. 1, at 5. 23 Plaintiff was a passenger in a car being driven by his friend. 24 Id. at 5. 25 a “dreamcatcher” hanging from the rearview mirror was obstructing 26 the driver’s vision. 27 the driver, Defendant Ortiz smelled alcohol and ordered the 28 occupants out of the car. Reporter’s Transcript of Preliminary On October 26, 2013, Defendant Ortiz pulled the car over, on suspicion that Id. at 21; Compl. ¶ 10. Id. at 21. 1 Upon speaking with Although the exact 1 sequence of events is disputed, Defendant Ortiz ultimately 2 arrested Plaintiff on a charge of public intoxication, and, in 3 doing so, pushed Plaintiff’s head through the rear window of his 4 patrol car. 5 Defendant Ortiz and his family. 6 Id. at 30-31. Plaintiff then allegedly threatened Id. at 18. As a result of this incident, Plaintiff was charged with 7 public intoxication, resisting an executive officer, and making 8 criminal threats. 9 filed the instant action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging After these charges were dismissed, Plaintiff 10 violations of his federal constitutional rights as well as 11 several claims under California state law. 12 include allegations of false arrest, excessive force, and 13 malicious prosecution against Defendant Ortiz. 14 71. 15 Plaintiff’s claims Compl. ¶¶ 47, 59, Following the filing of Plaintiff’s civil suit, the Office 16 of the Attorney General of California filed a new criminal 17 complaint, containing seven counts relating to the October 26, 18 2013 incident. 1 19 arraigned on the following three criminal charges: (1) resisting 20 an executive officer, namely Defendant Ortiz; (2) making criminal 21 threats against Defendant Ortiz; and (3) resisting the Following a preliminary hearing, Plaintiff was 22 23 24 25 26 27 1 Defendants maintain (and Plaintiff does not dispute) that the Attorney General’s commencement of a second criminal action against Plaintiff was proper, pursuant to the Article 5, Section 13 of the California Constitution and California Penal Code § 1387. Reply at 3. Based on the Court’s review of California Penal Code § 1387, which imposes a “two-dismissal” rule, the Attorney General’s action does not appear to be improper. See People v. Superior Court (Martinez), 19 Cal. App. 4th 738, 744 (1993). 28 2 1 corrections officer who booked him into custody. 2 Declaration, Ex. C. 3 Tonon In light of these pending criminal charges, Defendants ask 4 the Court to abstain from hearing Plaintiff’s civil suit under 5 Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). 6 verdict for Plaintiff in this civil suit would potentially 7 conflict with an eventual conviction in Plaintiff’s criminal 8 case, a result which the doctrine of Heck abstention was designed 9 to prevent. 10 2 Defendants argue that a Mot. at 3; Reply at 5. Under the Supreme Court’s holding in Heck, “a § 1983 action 11 that would call into question the lawfulness of a plaintiff's 12 conviction or confinement is not cognizable[.]” 13 Waldron, 210 F.3d 1008, 1013 (9th Cir. 2000). 14 criminal defendant files a § 1983 action, courts must “determine 15 whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily 16 imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence; if it would, 17 the complaint must be dismissed[.]” 18 Conversely, “if the plaintiff’s action, even if successful, will 19 not demonstrate the invalidity of any outstanding criminal 20 judgment against the plaintiff, the action should be allowed to 21 proceed[.]” 22 Harvey v. Thus, when a Heck, 512 U.S. at 487. Heck, 512 U.S. at 487. Plaintiff objects to the application of the Heck doctrine to 23 this case, on the grounds that the criminal charges are still 24 pending and there is no “conviction” to invalidate. 25 The prevailing rule in the Ninth Circuit prior to 2007 was that Opp. at 5. 26 27 28 2 This motion was determined to be suitable for decision without oral argument. E.D. Cal. L.R. 230(g). The hearing was scheduled for June 17, 2015. 3 1 “Heck applies to pending criminal charges, and [therefore] a 2 claim, that if successful would necessarily imply the invalidity 3 of a conviction in a pending criminal prosecution, does not 4 accrue so long as the potential for a conviction in the pending 5 criminal prosecution continues to exist.” 6 1014. 7 the principle that “an action which would impugn an anticipated 8 future conviction cannot be brought until that conviction occurs 9 and is set aside,” characterizing that approach as a “bizarre Harvey, 210 F.3d at However, in 2007, the United States Supreme Court rejected 10 extension of Heck.” 11 (emphasis in original). 12 following guidance to district courts: 13 Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 393 (2007) Nevertheless, the Court provided the 18 If 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. If the plaintiff is ultimately convicted, and if the stayed civil suit would impugn that conviction, Heck will require dismissal; otherwise, the civil action will proceed, absent some other bar to suit. 19 Kato, 549 U.S. at 393-94 (internal citations omitted). 14 15 16 17 20 Thus, if a judgment for Plaintiff on any of his civil claims 21 would “necessarily imply the invalidity of a conviction” on any 22 of the pending criminal charges against him, the Court has 23 discretion to stay Plaintiff’s civil action until the resolution 24 of that criminal charge. Heck, 512 U.S. at 487. 25 A pervasive theme in Plaintiff’s complaint is that Defendant 26 Ortiz lacked probable cause to arrest him. Compl. ¶¶ 16, 19, 20, 27 62, 64, 65. For Plaintiff to prevail on many of his claims – 28 4 1 such as his state law claim for false arrest/false imprisonment – 2 a fact finder would need to conclude that Defendant Ortiz lacked 3 probable cause to make an arrest. 4 547, 557 (1967) (noting that the “defense of good faith and 5 probable cause” exists for both state law claims for false arrest 6 and imprisonment, as well as actions under § 1983). 7 such a finding would conflict with a conviction on the charge of 8 “resisting an executive officer” during his arrest by Defendant 9 Ortiz. See Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. However, As both the Ninth Circuit and California courts have 10 explained, an individual cannot be guilty of resisting arrest if 11 the arrest itself was unlawful. 12 Transp. Agency, 261 F.3d 912, 920 (9th Cir. 2001) (noting that, 13 “[i]f the officers could not lawfully arrest Arpin for battery, 14 the officers could also not lawfully arrest Arpin for resisting 15 arrest”); People v. Simons, 42 Cal. App. 4th 1100, 1109 (1996) 16 (holding that a “[d]efendant cannot be convicted of an offense 17 against an officer engaged in the performance of official duties 18 unless the officer was acting lawfully at the time”). 19 See Arpin v. Santa Clara Valley Accordingly, under Heck (and Kato), the Court finds that 20 Plaintiff’s civil action includes claims that would necessarily 21 imply the invalidity of a conviction and should be stayed pending 22 the resolution of Count One in the criminal information against 23 Plaintiff, for resisting Defendant Ortiz during his arrest. 24 Dominguez v. Shaw, 2011 WL 6297971, at *4 (D. Ariz. Dec. 16, 25 2011) (granting summary judgment to defendants on false 26 imprisonment claim, under Heck, because the plaintiff “cannot 27 show that his arrest lacked probable cause without necessarily 28 invalidating his adjudication of delinquency for resisting 5 See 1 arrest”). 2 ordered to file a joint status report within 30 days of the 3 resolution of the criminal resisting an executive officer charge. 4 5 All upcoming dates are vacated and the parties are IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: June 30, 2015 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6

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