Clement v. Holden et al
RULING AND ORDER granting 14 Motion to Stay. This action is STAYED in its entirety until the criminal proceedings against Plaintiff are completed, subject to the following condition: within thirty (30) days of the date the state court criminal proceedings have concluded, Plaintiff shall file a motion asking this Court to lift the stay. Signed by Magistrate Judge Erin Wilder-Doomes on 09/15/2016. (ELW)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
MAYOR KIP HOLDEN, ET AL.
RULING AND ORDER ON UNOPPOSED MOTION TO STAY PROCEEDINGS
Before the Court is a Motion to Stay Proceedings filed by Mayor Kip Holden, Chief Carl
Dabadie, the Baton Rouge Police Department, Officer Joshua Kirst, Officer Brandon Blackwell,
and The City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge (collectively “Defendants”), pending
the resolution of the related criminal proceeding currently pending against Plaintiff in state court.1
Any opposition to this Motion was required to be filed within 21 days after service of the Motion.
LR 7(f). More than 21 days have passed since the filing of the Motion and Plaintiff has not filed
an opposition as of the date of this Order. The Motion is therefore unopposed.
For the reasons set forth herein, Defendants’ Motion to Stay is GRANTED and this matter
is STAYED until resolution of the related criminal proceeding pending in state court. It is further
ORDERED that the Clerk of Court CLOSE the above-captioned civil case for administrative and
statistical purposes, pending further order from this Court.
I. Procedural History
The Plaintiff claims that on December 22, 2014, while attending a Christmas party at The
Varsity Theater in Baton Rouge, officers from the Baton Rouge Police Department (“BRPD”)
R. Doc. 14. As this motion is not one of the motions excepted in 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), nor dispositive of any
claim on the merits within the meaning of Rule 72 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, this ruling is issued under
the authority thereof. See, Boyd v. Occidental Fire & Casualty Co. of North Carolina, 2011 WL 4062383, at *1 n.1
(M.D. La. Sept. 13, 2011).
responded to a call to assist paramedics who reported being blocked by crowds from reaching a
patient inside The Varsity Theater.2 Plaintiff asserts that he was outside The Varsity Theater when
the officers arrived and turned on his cell phone to record interactions with the BRPD. Plaintiff
asserts that when he began recording, a BRPD officer grabbed him by the neck and threw him
violently onto the concrete, slamming Plaintiff’s head into a metal handrail.3 Plaintiff claims he
was subsequently handcuffed and swarmed by two BRPD officers who told him to get on his
stomach. Plaintiff asserts that he cooperated with the officers and repeatedly told them “I’m not
fighting.”4 Plaintiff claims video surveillance shows that he was shoved, choked, and kicked while
lying handcuffed on the ground and repeatedly stating in a calm manner that he was not fighting.5
Plaintiff was arrested and charged with Entry/Remaining after being Forbidden, Battery on a
Police Officer, Disturbing the Peace, and Resisting an Officer.6
According to Defendants, the State of Louisiana filed a Bill of Information on August 6,
2015, formally charging Plaintiff with Entry/Remaining after being Forbidden and Disturbing the
On December 22, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court against the Defendants,
seeking monetary damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on his alleged false arrest and the
arresting officers’ use of excessive force in violation of his rights under both the United States and
Louisiana Constitutions, along with various state law claims.8
On June 27, 2016, Defendants filed the instant Motion to Stay Proceedings, seeking to stay
the federal court proceeding pending the outcome of Plaintiff’s criminal trial under Heck v.
R. Doc. 1 at 3-4.
Id. at 4.
Id. at 5.
R. Doc. 14-1 at 1.
Id. at 1-2. Defendants did not provide a copy of the Bill of Information.
R. Doc. 1.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994) and Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S.
384, 127 S.Ct. 1091, 166 L.Ed.2d 973 (2007).9 According to the Defendants, at the time they filed
the Motion, the criminal matter was set for a hearing on August 17, 2016 in the case entitled State
of Louisiana v. Daniel Jacob Clement, Case No. 008-15-0223, filed in the 19th Judicial District
Court for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana.10 Defendants argue that this proceeding
should be stayed because substantive discovery cannot be conducted in this matter without
interfering with the pending state prosecution of the Plaintiff. Defendants point out that the Fifth
Circuit has recognized a qualified privilege protecting investigative files in an ongoing criminal
investigation.11 Defendants also assert that federal courts can observe state policies supporting a
privilege when weighing the government’s interest in confidentiality, such as La. R.S. 44:3, which
prohibits disclosure of “records pertaining to pending criminal litigation or any criminal litigation
which can be reasonably anticipated, until such litigation has been finally adjudicated or otherwise
settled.” La. R.S. 44:3.
Defendants further assert that a stay is necessary due to the potential for dismissal of
Plaintiff’s § 1983 claim if a judgment in the Plaintiff’s favor would necessarily imply the invalidity
of his conviction or sentence. See Heck, 512 U.S. at 487, 114 S.Ct. at 2372. Defendants assert
that premature development of this case could result in findings that contradict the validity of any
conviction on the Plaintiff’s pending criminal charges and that the Court should stay the
proceedings in this § 1983 case until the pending criminal case has run its course. See Wallace,
549 U.S. at 393-94, 127 S.Ct. at 1098. Because the Plaintiff has asserted claims for false arrest
and excessive force which are related to rulings that will be made in his criminal trial, Defendants
R. Doc. 14.
R. Doc. 14-1 at 2. Nothing has been filed into the record regarding the outcome of the August 17, 2016 hearing.
Id. (citing Coughlin v. Lee, 946 F.2d 1152 (5th Cir. 1991)).
assert that allowing this case to proceed could interfere with the State’s prosecution and may raise
some unnecessary conflicts with the relevant law. Thus, Defendants request that this matter be
stayed while the criminal proceedings are pending against the Plaintiff.
II. Law and Analysis
In Heck v. Humphrey, the Supreme Court held that, “when a state prisoner seeks damages
in a § 1983 suit, the district court must consider whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would
necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence.” 512 U.S. at 487, 114 S.Ct. at 2372.
The Supreme Court further held, “[I]f it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff
can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated.” Id. Thus, “A §
1983 claim which falls under the rule in Heck is legally frivolous unless the conviction or sentence
at issue has been reversed, expunged, invalidated, or otherwise called into question.” Hamilton v.
Lyons, 74 F.3d 99, 102 (5th Cir. 1996) (citing Boyd v. Biggers, 31 F.3d 279, 283 (5th Cir. 1994)).
Further, “[T]he Heck rule applies only when there has been a conviction or sentence that has not
been invalidated, not to pending criminal charges.” Collier v. Roberts, 2013 WL 5671154, at *2
(M.D. La. Oct. 15, 2013) (citing Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 393-94, 127 S.Ct. 1091, 1097-98
(2007)). In Wallace, the Supreme Court held:
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
549 U.S. at 393-94, 127 S.Ct. at 1098. The Supreme Court further held that, “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.” Heck, 549 U.S.
at 394, 127 S.Ct. at 1098 (citing Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 649, 117 S.Ct. 1584, 137
L.Ed.2d 906 (1997); Heck, 512 U.S. at 487, 114 S.Ct. 2364).
In the instant case, there are two charges pending against Plaintiff in state court arising out
of the December 22, 2014 incident-Entry/Remaining after being Forbidden and Disturbing the
Peace.12 Because Plaintiff filed a false arrest claim before any conviction on the underlying
criminal charges, the Court finds that a stay of this action is appropriate pending the resolution of
Plaintiff’s criminal charges in state court pursuant to Wallace. “[F]ederal courts are authorized to
stay civil rights claims attacking the legality of a plaintiff’s arrest, prosecution, and detention until
such time as the allegedly improper state prosecution has been concluded.” Iberia Texaco Food
Mart, LLC v. Ackal, 2013 WL 166396, at *2 (W.D. La. Jan. 14, 2013) (citing Wallace, 549 U.S.
at 393-94; 127 S.Ct. at 1098). “In accordance with that authorization, district courts within the
Fifth Circuit . . . have routinely stayed civil rights actions when criminal charges remain pending.”
Iberia, 2013 WL 166396 at *3.13
A stay of this matter is also appropriate due to Plaintiff’s pending claim regarding the
arresting officers’ alleged use of excessive force.14 The Fifth Circuit has held that although Heck
applies to § 1983 excessive force claims, “the determination of whether such claims are barred is
analytical and fact-intensive, requiring us to focus on whether success on the excessive force claim
requires negation of an element of the criminal offense or proof of a fact that is inherently
inconsistent with one underlying the criminal conviction.” Bush v. Strain, 513 F.3d 492, 497 (5th
Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). The Court finds that Plaintiff’s pending charges of Entry/Remaining
R. Doc. 14-1 at 1-2.
See Pellerin v. Neustrom, 2011 WL 6749019 (W.D. La. Dec. 22, 2011); Hood v. Smith, 2011 WL378786, at *3–4
(E.D. La. Jan. 11, 2011); Quinn v. Guerrero, 2010 WL 412901, at *2 (E .D. Tex. Jan. 28, 2010); Fox v. Campbell,
2009 WL 1076809 (E.D. Tex. Apr. 21, 2009); Holt v. Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, 2007 WL 4114357, at *5–6
(E.D. La. Nov. 16, 2007); Profit v. Ouachita Parish, 2010 WL 1643800 (W.D. La. Apr. 21, 2010); Caldwell v.
Lambert, 2010 WL 3036488 (W.D. La. Aug. 2, 2010); Brown v. Hill, 2010 WL 1734721 (W.D. La. Apr. 28, 2010).
See R. Doc. 1.
after being Forbidden and Disturbing the Peace “are of a type and character that a conviction on
these charges may bar this § 1983 action.” See Collier v. Roberts, 2013 WL 5671154, at *2 (M.D.
La. Oct. 15, 2013). Although Collier involved a plaintiff with pending criminal charges of
resisting an officer and battery of a police officer, this Court finds the circumstances of the instant
case analogous to those in Collier and require a similar result. Like in Collier, the question whether
the officers applied reasonable force in arresting Plaintiff depends in part on the degree of his
resistance, which could undermine Plaintiff’s convictions for Entry/Remaining after being
Forbidden and Disturbing the Peace. Like in Collier, if Plaintiff is convicted of either charge, the
conviction might prohibit recovery with respect to his false arrest and excessive force claims
because the conviction could imply that the Defendants’ use of force was reasonable under the
circumstances.15 As such, the Court finds that a stay of all proceedings is warranted in this case
until the underlying criminal case is resolved.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Defendants’ unopposed Motion to Stay
Proceedings16 is GRANTED, and this action is STAYED in its entirety until the criminal
proceedings against Plaintiff are completed, subject to the following condition: within thirty (30)
days of the date the state court criminal proceedings have concluded, Plaintiff shall file a motion
asking this Court to lift the stay. The action will proceed at that time, absent some other bar to
suit. See Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 127 S.Ct. 1091, 166 L.Ed.2d 973 (2007).
Although Plaintiff alleges other federal claims that may remain pending under Heck after the adjudication of
Plaintiff’s underlying criminal charges, the Court finds that in the interest of judicial efficiency, a stay is appropriate
in this matter so that all of the claims can proceed together.
R. Doc. 14.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court CLOSE the above-captioned civil
case for administrative and statistical purposes, pending further order from this Court.
Signed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on September 15, 2016.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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