Otts v. Mask et al
ORDER granting 55 Motion to Stay. Signed by Magistrate Judge Roy Percy on 10/3/19. (bnd)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
PHILLIP TERRY OTTS
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:18cv261-NBB-RP
SHERIFF LEONARD MASK, CHIEF DEPUTY
RANDY ROBERTS, TRAVIS DAVIS, III
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO STAY
Travis Davis, III has moved to stay all proceedings in this case pending the outcome of
the criminal proceedings pending against plaintiff Phillip Terry Otts in connection with the
incident that gave rise to this litigation. Docket 55. The remaining defendants, Sheriff Leonard
Mask and Chief Deputy Randy Roberts joined in Davis’ motion. Docket 56. Plaintiff has
responded to defendants’ motion advising that he is opposed to a stay, but he did not provide any
argument or legal authority to support his position.
The court has reviewed both the motion and response and concludes that the stay is
proper. Federal courts have held for many years that state courts should be “free from
interference by federal courts.” Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 43 (U.S. 1971). “A district
court’s discretionary authority to stay proceedings stems from its inherent authority to control the
disposition of the cases on its docket ‘with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and
for litigants.’” Alcala v. Texas Webb County, 625 F. Supp. 2d 391, 396 (S.D. Tex. May 1,
2009); citing Landis v. North American Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936). The United States
Supreme Court in Wallace v. Kato held:
[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. 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.
549 U.S. 384, 393-94(U.S. 2007); citing Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 649 (1997); Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994). Consequently, this case is hereby STAYED pending the
final disposition of the criminal charges against Phillip Terry Otts.
Counsel are directed to notify the undersigned within seven days of the conclusion of the
criminal proceedings against Phillip Terry Otts in the Circuit Court of Pontotoc County,
Mississippi. Further, counsel are instructed to file a status report as to the criminal proceedings
on January 3, 2020 and every three months thereafter.
SO ORDERED, this the 3rd day of October, 2019.
/s/ Roy Percy
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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