Greathouse v. St. Petersburg Police Department et al
ORDER denying without prejudice 53 Motion for Summary Judgment. This case is STAYED pending the completion of Plaintiff's state criminal case. The clerk is directed to ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSE this case. If Plaintiff wishes to proceed with this case, he must move to reopen within 45 days of the conclusion of his state criminal case. Signed by Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington on 1/6/2021. (LSC)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
ROBERT E. GREATHOUSE,
Case No. 8:19-cv-310-T-33AAS
ST. PETERSBURG POLICE DEPARTMENT,
MICHAEL R. EGULE,
RENEE D. MCKINEY,
This cause comes before the Court sua sponte. Plaintiff Robert E. Greathouse, a
prisoner confined at the Pinellas County Jail, in Pinellas County, Florida, initiated this
case by filing, pro se, a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges
that he was unlawfully arrested without probable cause. He seeks compensatory and
punitive damages for false imprisonment, unlawful seizure, falsification of government
documents, deprivation of liberty without due process, and other constitutional and state
law violations. (Doc. 1)
Federal courts must refrain from intervening in pending state criminal proceedings
when the party requesting federal intervention has an adequate remedy at law and will not
suffer irreparable injury. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 53 (1971). Abstention under
the Younger doctrine is required where: “(1) there is a pending state judicial proceeding;
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(2) the proceeding implicates important state interests; and (3) the parties have an
adequate opportunity to raise any constitutional claims in the state proceeding.”
Newsome v. Broward Cnty. Pub. Defenders, 304 F. App’x. 814, 816 (11th Cir. 2008)
(citing Middlesex Cnty. Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432
(1982)). Regarding the first factor, “the relevant inquiry is ‘whether the federal
proceeding will interfere with an ongoing state court proceeding.’” Id. (quoting 31
Foster Children v. Bush, 329 F.3d 1255, 1276 (11th Cir. 2003)).
First, Plaintiff’s state criminal proceedings are ongoing. Although Plaintiff failed
to document the case in his Notice of Pendency of Other Actions (Doc. 6), publiclyavailable records from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office reveal that Plaintiff is
awaiting trial on the criminal charges relevant to this case. A ruling by this Court
concerning the legality of Plaintiff’s arrest would certainly interfere with those state
criminal proceedings. Second, the criminal proceedings implicate important state
interests. Plaintiff is charged with sexual battery and failure to register as a sex offender.
Florida has a significate interest in prosecuting those matters. See id. at 816 (recognizing
Florida’s state interest in “ensur[ing] that violent sex offenders do not harm its citizens”).
Third, Plaintiff will have an adequate opportunity to litigate the probable cause issue
during his state criminal case. Accordingly, the Younger doctrine warrants abstention.
In cases involving claims for damages, such as this one, it is common for a federal
court to stay the federal proceeding until the relevant criminal case has ended. See e.g.,
Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 393–94 (2007) (“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
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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.”). Therefore, the Court will stay this case pending
the completion of Plaintiff’s underlying state criminal case.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED that this case is STAYED pending the completion
of Plaintiff’s state criminal case. The clerk is directed to ADMINISTRATIVELY
CLOSE this case. If Plaintiff wishes to proceed with this case, he must move to reopen
within 45 days of the conclusion of his state criminal case. Plaintiff’s Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. 53) is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
DONE and ORDERED in Chambers in Tampa, Florida, this 6th day of January,
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