Chacon et al v. East Haven Police Dept et al
ORDER: Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Stay of Proceedings 58 is GRANTED and the Government's Motion to Stay Discovery 67 is GRANTED; Defendants' Motion 65 to Receive a Copy of Government's Exhibit A is DENIED. Signed by Judge Janet Bond Arterton on 09/02/2011. (Flagg, K.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
Marcia Chacon, et al.,
Civil No. 3:10cv1692 (JBA)
East Haven Police Department, et al.,
September 2, 2011
RULING ON MOTIONS [Doc. ## 58, 65, 67] AND ORDER OF TEMPORARY STAY
OF DEPOSITION DISCOVERY
Plaintiffs, joined by the Government, move for an order to temporarily stay discovery
proceedings in this case for six months, because (1) Defendants, as potential targets in an
ongoing federal criminal investigation have and will assert their Fifth Amendment privilege
and refuse to be deposed in this action, unfairly resulting in one–sided discovery;
(2) discovery in this action will disclose the identities of witnesses who may then be subject
to intimidation or retaliation; and (3) a six–month stay is needed to protect the integrity of
the on–going criminal investigation, and to prevent liberal civil discovery from
circumventing limited criminal case discovery.1
Although Defendants oppose Plaintiffs’ and the Government’s motions to stay the
proceedings entirely for six months, they no longer oppose the Government’s motion to
permissively intervene and for a partial stay, which was under reconsideration on
Defendant’s request. (See Ord. [Doc. # 47].) Thus, the Government’s Motion to Intervene
and for Partial Stay remains GRANTED, as set forth in the [Doc. # 43] Endorsement Order
dated March 24, 2011.
Plaintiffs argue that Defendants’ assertions of their Fifth Amendment rights during
depositions will be unfairly prejudicial because Defendants continue to seek to take
Plaintiffs’ depositions but the only two Defendants who have been subject to depositions
thus far stopped answering questions after six and 18 minutes respectively, claiming that
they could not answer questions because of the pending criminal investigation. The merit
in Plaintiffs’ claim of unfairness of one–sided discovery, however, is better viewed in light
of the Government’s concerns of risk to the integrity of its criminal investigation and the
Grand Jury proceedings. Defendants’ stated hardship is that “[a] full stay of proceedings
would stop this case in its tracks and prevent the defendants from clearing their names in
a timely manner.” (Mem. Opp’n [Doc. # 63] at 8.)2 The Defendants’ claim of delay hardship
is mitigated by the short stay duration requested, i.e., six months.
At the hearing held on July 27, 2011, the Government represented that although no
criminal charges have been filed, that there will be some resolution of the Grand Jury
Proceedings in six months. Thus, by February 2012 it is expected that the Court will likely
have a clearer view of the parties’ actual competing interests in order to properly balance all
The Court notes that both Plaintiffs’ and Defendants’ positions are somewhat
undermined by their prior contrary positions on a discovery stay sought by Defendants
earlier this year (see Doc. ## 26, 27, 32.) Defendants earlier moved [Doc. # 26] for a stay of
proceedings, which Plaintiffs opposed, “until the Department of Justice’s criminal
investigation is complete or the criminal proceedings stemming from said investigation, if
any, are concluded, whichever is later.” Defendants argued that any “[p]otential harm to civil
litigants arising from delaying them is reduced due to the promise of a fairly quick resolution
of the criminal case under the Speedy Trial Act,” quoting The Honorable Milton Pollak,
Parallel Civil and Criminal Proceedings, at the Transferee Judges’ Conference (Oct. 17–19,
1989), 129 F.R.D. 201, 203, and they further maintained that “[e]qually important, granting
a stay now may streamline later civil discovery because the issues in the civil and criminal
proceedings overlap extensively.” (Defs.’ Mem. Supp. [Doc. # 27] at 6–7.)
relevant discovery interests going forward. See Bridgeport Harbor Place, LLC v. Ganim, 269
F.Supp. 2d 6 (D. Conn. 2002).
In the meanwhile, it is evident that if deposition discovery is not briefly stayed, the
parties and the Court will likely become embroiled in discovery disputes about scope and
availability of asserted privileges, and length and nature of deposition interrogations, which
will be more focused once the Grand Jury results are known. However, because written
discovery is a more limited, controlled form of discovery and not subject to the same
concerns as individual oral depositions, there appears to be no need to stay that aspect of
discovery, and permitting written discovery to go forward will partially meet defendants’
argument that this case not be stopped “in its tracks.”
Having balanced the interests and burdens of expeditious case resolution, judicial
efficiency, and the public interest in both the pending civil case and criminal investigation,
the Court concludes that imposition of a six–month stay on deposition discovery, without
stay on written discovery, best serves all interests.
Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ [Doc. # 58] Motion for Temporary Stay of Proceedings and
the Government’s [Doc. # 67] Motion to Stay Discovery are GRANTED with modification,
and no depositions may be taken by any party prior to February 3, 2012 absent further order
of the Court. Because the Court does not address the Government’s ex parte submission of
evidence of purported retaliation and intimidation, Defendants’ [Doc. # 65] Motion to
Receive a Copy of Government’s Exhibit A is DENIED as moot.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Janet Bond Arterton, U.S.D.J.
Dated at New Haven, Connecticut this 2nd day of September, 2011.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?