State of Washington, et al., v. Trump., et al

Filing 189

ORDER granting Defendants' 175 Motion to Stay District Court Proceedings Pending Resolution of Appeal in Hawaii v. Trump. Should circumstances change such that lifting the stay is warranted, any party may move to lift the stay. Signed by Judge James L. Robart. (PM)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 8 9 STATE OF WASHINGTON, et al., 10 Plaintiffs, 11 v. CASE NO. C17-0141JLR ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR STAY 12 DONALD J. TRUMP, et al., 13 Defendants. 14 15 I. 16 INTRODUCTION Before the court is Defendants’ motion to stay these proceedings pending 17 resolution of the appeal of the preliminary injunction in Hawaii v. Trump, No. CV 18 17-00050 (D. Haw.). (Mot. (Dkt. # 175)); see also Hawaii v. Trump, No. 17-15589 (9th 19 Cir.). The court has considered Defendants’ motion, Plaintiffs’ opposition to the motion 20 (Resp. (Dkt. # 180)), Defendants’ reply (Reply (Dkt. # 184)), the relevant portions of the 21 // 22 // ORDER - 1 1 record, and the applicable law. Being fulling advised, 1 the court GRANTS Defendants’ 2 motion. 3 4 II. BACKGROUND This lawsuit arises out of President Donald J. Trump’s recent issuance of two 5 Executive Orders on immigration: Executive Order No. 13,769 (“EO1”) and Executive 6 Order No. 13,780 (“EO2”). 2 This lawsuit began as a challenge to EO1. (See Compl. 7 (Dkt. # 1).) On February 3, 2017, this court issued a nationwide temporary restraining 8 order (“TRO”) enjoining enforcement of sections 3(c), 5(a), 5(b), 5(c), and 5(e) of EO1. 9 (TRO (Dkt. # 52).) On appeal, the Ninth Circuit construed this court’s TRO as a 10 preliminary injunction and declined to stay the preliminary injunction pending 11 Defendants’ appeal of the preliminary injunction in the Ninth Circuit. See Washington v. 12 Trump, 847 F.3d 1151, 1158 (9th Cir. 2017). On March 6, 2017, President Trump issued 13 EO2, which expressly revokes EO1. See EO2 ¶ 13. In addition, Defendants withdrew 14 their appeal of this court’s injunction with respect to EO1. (9th Cir. Order (Dkt. # 111) 15 (granting unopposed motion for voluntary dismissal of appeal).) 16 Following the President’s issuance of EO2, Plaintiffs filed a second amended 17 complaint incorporating new allegations and claims with respect to EO2. (SAC (Dkt. 18 # 152).) On March 15, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a motion seeking a TRO against 19 enforcement of Sections 2(c) and 6(a) of EO2. (TRO Mot. (Dkt. # 148).) Later that same 20 1 21 22 No party has requested oral argument, and the court determines that oral argument is not necessary for its disposition of this motion. See Local Rules W.D. Wash. LCR 7(b)(4). 2 EO2 expressly revoked EO1 effective March 16, 2017. See EO2 § 13. ORDER - 2 1 day, in a separate suit, the federal district court in Hawaii enjoined the enforcement of 2 Sections 2 and 6 of EO2. See Hawaii v. Trump, No. CV 17-00050 (D. Haw.), Dkt. 3 ## 219-20. On March 17, 2017, the court entered a stay of Plaintiffs’ motion for a TRO 4 in part because the federal district court in Hawaii entered a nationwide injunction that 5 provided Plaintiffs with the relief they sought. (3/17/17 Order (Dkt. # 164) at 8-9.) The 6 court also noted that “the Ninth Circuit’s rulings on EO2 in Hawaii v. Trump will likely 7 have significant relevance to—and potentially control—the court’s subsequent ruling 8 here.” (Id. at 10.) Accordingly, the court concluded that “granting the stay of Plaintiffs’ 9 TRO motion while the nationwide injunction remains in place . . . pending the outcome 10 of appellate proceedings in [the Hawaii] case would facilitate the orderly course of 11 justice.” (Id.) 12 Defendants now seek a stay not just of Plaintiffs’ motion for a TRO, but of the 13 entire case pending resolution of the appeal in Hawaii v. Trump. (See Mot.) Plaintiffs 14 oppose a stay. (See Resp.) The court now considers Defendants’ motion. 15 III. ANALYSIS 16 The court “has broad discretion to stay proceedings as an incident to its power to 17 control its own docket.” Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 706 (1997); see also Landis v. 18 N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936). This power applies “especially in cases of 19 extraordinary public moment” when “a plaintiff may be required to submit to delay not 20 immoderate in extent and not oppressive in its consequences if the public welfare or 21 convenience will thereby be promoted.” Clinton, 520 U.S. at 707. In determining 22 whether to grant a motion to stay, “the competing interests which will be affected by the ORDER - 3 1 granting or refusal to grant a stay must be weighed.” Lockyer v. Mirant Corp., 398 F.3d 2 1098, 1110 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing CMAX, Inc. v. Hall, 300 F.2d 265, 268 (9th Cir. 3 1962)). Those interests include: (1) “the possible damage which may result from the 4 granting of a stay,” (2) “the hardship or inequity which a party may suffer in being 5 required to go forward,” and (3) “the orderly course of justice measured in terms of the 6 simplifying or complicating of issues, proof, and questions of law which could be 7 expected to result from a stay.” Id. Here, the court finds that these factors weigh in favor 8 of granting Defendants’ motion pending resolution of the appeal of the preliminary 9 injunction in Hawaii v. Trump. 10 A. The Orderly Course of Justice 11 The court begins with the last factor—the orderly course of justice and judicial 12 economy. District courts often stay proceedings where resolution of an appeal in another 13 matter is likely to provide guidance to the court in deciding issues before it. See Landis, 14 299 U.S. at 254. Where a stay is considered pending the resolution of another action, the 15 court need not find that the two cases involve identical issues; a finding that the issues are 16 substantially similar is sufficient to support a stay. See Landis, 299 U.S. at 254; see also 17 Leyva v. Certified Grocers of Cal., Ltd., 593 F.2d 857, 863-64 (9th Cir. 1979) (stating 18 that the court’s authority to stay one proceeding pending the outcome in another “does 19 not require that the issues in such proceedings are necessarily controlling of the action 20 before the court”). Here, the appeal in Hawaii v. Trump involves many issues that 21 overlap with the present litigation. Indeed, both cases involve challenges to sections 2 22 and 6 of EO2. (See SAC ¶¶ 196, 203, 209, 218, 224, 235, 240); Hawaii v. Trump, No. ORDER - 4 1 CV 17-00050 DKW-KSC, 2017 WL 1011673, at *17 (D. Haw. Mar. 15, 2017) (issuing 2 nationwide TRO regarding sections 2 and 6 of EO2). 3 Defendants argue that waiting for the Ninth Circuit’s decision in the Hawaii case 4 will likely provide guidance to the court in resolving discovery disputes relevant to 5 Plaintiffs’ claims. (Mot. at 6-8.) First, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs are seeking 6 internal government records that Defendants believe are irrelevant because under 7 Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S. 753, 770 (1972), Defendants need only demonstrate a 8 “facially legitimate and bona fide reason” for the Executive’s exclusion of aliens. (Mot. 9 at 6.) Plaintiffs contend that “the Ninth Circuit has already resolved . . . against 10 Defendants” the issue of whether internal government documents are relevant to 11 Plaintiffs’ claims when it rejected application of the Mandel standard in Washington, 847 12 F.3d at 1162. (Resp. at 7-8.) However, in the Hawaii appeal, Defendants argue that the 13 federal district court in Hawaii misread [the Ninth Circuit’s] stay ruling in Washington. 14 (See Mot. at 1 (citing appellants’ brief).) Plaintiffs obviously disagree with this position, 15 but the salient point for purposes of Defendants’ stay motion is that resolution of the 16 Hawaii appeal is likely to provide guidance to this court on that issue and by extension on 17 the appropriate scope of discovery. 18 Further, even if the Ninth Circuit were to determine in Hawaii that Mandel does 19 not provide the applicable standard and that courts may look beyond the four corners of 20 EO2, the Ninth Circuit’s decision is likely to provide guidance on the scope of that 21 review. Although the Ninth Circuit is not considering discovery issues on appeal, it is 22 likely to decide legal issues that will impact the court’s resolution of the parties’ ORDER - 5 1 discovery disputes here by clarifying “the applicable law or relevant landscape of facts 2 that need to be developed.” See Washington v. Trump, No. C17-0141JLR, 2017 WL 3 1050354, at *5 (W.D. Wash. Mar. 17, 2017) (quoting Hawaii v. Trump, No. CV 4 17-00050 DKW-KJM, 2017 WL 536826, at *5 (D. Haw. Feb. 9, 2017)). 5 In addition, Defendants are likely to move for dismissal under Federal Rules of 6 Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). (Mot. at 8.) Defendants are likely to raise the 7 same arguments that they would have raised in opposition to Plaintiffs’ TRO motion had 8 the court not stayed consideration of that motion. (Id.) For the same reasons that the 9 court determined that the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Hawaii would be helpful in 10 resolving Plaintiffs’ TRO motion, see Washington, 2017 WL 1050354, at *6, the Ninth 11 Circuit’s decision will also likely help the court in resolving Defendants’ motion to 12 dismiss. 13 Plaintiffs argue that the issues in the two cases are not perfectly matched and that 14 the Ninth Circuit’s resolution of the appeal in Hawaii will leave various issues 15 unresolved before this court. (See Resp. at 8-10.) Resolution of the Hawaii appeal, 16 however, need not “settle every question of . . . law” to justify a stay. Landis, 299 U.S. at 17 256. It is sufficient that the Hawaii appeal will likely “settle many” issues and “simplify” 18 others, id., such that a stay will facilitate the orderly course of justice and conserve 19 resources for both the court and the parties. See Fairview Hosp. v. Leavitt, No. 20 05-1065RWR, 2007 WL 1521233, at *3 n.7 (D.D.C. May 22, 2007) (granting a stay 21 pending the resolution of another matter that would likely settle or simplify issues even 22 though resolution of the other matter “would not foreclose the necessity of litigation in ORDER - 6 1 [the stayed] case”); In re Literary Works in Elec. Databases Copyright Litig., No. 00 CIV 2 6049, 2001 WL 204212, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 1, 2001) (same). Accordingly, the court 3 finds that this factor weighs in favor of granting Defendants’ motion for a stay. 4 B. Possible Harm to Plaintiffs if a Stay is Imposed 5 Plaintiffs assert that there is a significant possibility that a stay will harm their 6 ability to obtain complete and accurate discovery. (Resp. at 3-6.) In particular, Plaintiffs 7 raise the specter that third parties may be free to destroy evidence during the stay. (Id. at 8 4-5.) They also assert that Defendants have disclaimed any obligation to locate or 9 preserve evidence that predates President Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017. 10 11 (Id.) The court first addresses Defendants’ obligation to preserve evidence. Defendants 12 acknowledge that they “are aware of their obligation to preserve information in their 13 possession, custody, or control that may be relevant to the claims and defenses in this 14 case.” (JSR (Dkt. # 177) at 9 (italics added).) To date, the court has not ruled that 15 evidence that predates January 20, 2017, is irrelevant to this case. Indeed, Plaintiffs’ 16 second amended complaint expressly raises factual allegations concerning pre- 17 inauguration events. 3 (See, e.g., SAC (Dkt. # 152) ¶ 141 (“Prior to his election, Donald 18 Trump campaigned on the promise that he would ban Muslims from entering the United 19 20 21 22 3 “The ‘obligation to preserve evidence arises when the party has notice that the evidence is relevant to litigation—most commonly when suit has already been filed, providing the party responsible for the destruction with express notice, but also on occasion in other circumstances, as for example when a party should have known that the evidence may be relevant to future litigation.’” Ruiz v. XPO Last Mile, Inc., No. 05CV2125 JLS (KSC), 2016 WL 7365769, at *3 (S.D. Cal. Dec. 19, 2016) (quoting Kronisch v. United States, 150 F.3d 112, 126 (2d Cir. 1998)). ORDER - 7 1 States.”).) Indeed, the relevancy of this time period is one of the issues that Defendants 2 assert the Hawaii appeal may resolve and that supports imposing a stay. (See Mot. at 7 3 (“[T]he Ninth Circuit’s decision is likely to provide assistance in resolving disputes about 4 the appropriate time frame for any discovery.”).) Thus, until that issue is resolved, the 5 court expects all parties to abide by their obligation to preserve information in their 6 possession, custody, or control that may be relevant to Plaintiffs’ claims and Defendants’ 7 defenses—including evidence that predates January 20, 2017. The entry of a stay in 8 these proceedings does not obviate either parties’ obligation to ensure the preservation 9 such evidence, and the court expects all parties to fulfill their obligations in this regard. 4 10 11 See supra n.3. Plaintiffs also raise legitimate concerns about their need to obtain information and 12 preserve evidence from third parties. (See Resp. at 5.) To alleviate this potential harm, 13 Defendants suggest that Plaintiffs send preservation letters to the third parties at issue “to 14 notify them of the litigation and request that they preserve any potentially relevant 15 evidence.” (Reply at 5.) If Plaintiffs do not believe that sending such letters will resolve 16 the issue of third-party evidentiary preservation, the court permits Plaintiffs to seek a 17 limited modification of the stay order to allow Plaintiffs to issue subpoenas to the third 18 parties. The issuance of subpoenas to third parties would provide the force of a court 19 20 21 22 4 Without citation to evidence, Plaintiffs assert that Defendants believe they “may discard probative evidence if it was created prior to Inauguration Day.” (Resp. at 5.) As noted above, such a belief would be contrary to Defendants’ obligations to preserve evidence that may be relevant to either Plaintiffs’ claims or Defendants’ defenses. If there is evidence that a party to this litigation has discarded probative evidence, the court expects such evidence to be brought before it forthwith. ORDER - 8 1 order with respect to the preservation of this evidence and should assuage Plaintiffs’ fears 2 that potentially relevant evidence might be destroyed. The court would then stay any 3 required production under or response to the subpoenas until such time as the stay is 4 lifted, which will prevent Defendants from becoming embroiled in potentially complex 5 privilege and relevancy issues without the benefit of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in the 6 Hawaii case. 5 (See Reply at 6.) 7 Plaintiffs are also concerned about the potential length of a stay. The court is 8 sensitive to this concern, but notes that the Ninth Circuit ordered expedited briefing in the 9 Hawaii appeal and conducted oral argument on May 15, 2017. See Hawaii v. Trump, No. 10 17-15589 (9th Cir.), Dkt. ## 14, 18. Plaintiffs also raise the concern that the stay may 11 continue through an appeal to the United States Supreme Court. (Resp. at 6-7.) 12 Although that may be true, the court also recognizes that litigation is inherently uncertain 13 and this litigation or the Hawaii litigation could end prior to reaching the United States 14 Supreme Court. Further, the court will require the parties to submit a joint status report 15 within ten days of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in the Hawaii appeal so that the court can 16 reassess the continued appropriateness of the stay at that time. Due to the short duration 17 of the stay Defendants seek and the safeguards that the court has implemented to mitigate 18 any harm to Plaintiffs—particularly with regard to the preservation of evidence—the 19 20 21 22 5 In addition, requiring Plaintiffs to bring a motion prior to issuing any third-party subpoenas during the course of the stay will permit Defendants an opportunity to respond before any modification of the stay order. ORDER - 9 1 court finds that the potential harm to Plaintiffs is insufficient to warrant denying 2 Defendants’ motion. 3 C. Possible Hardship or Inequity to Defendants if a Stay is Not Imposed 4 Defendants assert that, in the absence of a stay pending further guidance from the 5 Ninth Circuit, they will endure hardship due to “[t]he sheer volume of discovery” that 6 Plaintiffs anticipate serving on “the highest levels of government.” (Mot. at 9, 10.) In 7 addition to written discovery and document requests, Plaintiffs anticipate up to 30 8 depositions of government officials, including White House staff and Cabinet-level 9 officers. (Id. at 10; see also Resp. at 11; Reply at 5 n.3 (stating that Plaintiffs indicated in 10 their initial disclosures that they believe the following officials have discoverable 11 information: President Donald Trump, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, 12 Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jefferson Sessions, former National 13 Security Advisor Michael Flynn, White House Counsel Donald McGahn, Presidential 14 Advisors Stephen Miller and Stephen Bannon, and White House Press Secretary Sean 15 Spicer); JSR at 8, 9 (stating that Plaintiffs propose that the parties be permitted to take up 16 to thirty (30) depositions per side).) Plaintiffs respond that “being required to defend a 17 suit, without more, does not constitute a ‘clear case of hardship or inequity.’” (Resp. at 18 11 (quoting Lockyer, 398 F.3d at 1112 and Landis, 299 U.S. at 255).) 19 However, neither this lawsuit, nor the discovery Plaintiffs seek is typical. The 20 Supreme Court has declared that “the high respect that is owed to the office of the Chief 21 Executive . . . is a matter that should inform the conduct of the entire proceeding, 22 including the timing and scope of discovery, . . . and the Executive’s constitutional ORDER - 10 1 responsibilities and status are factors counseling judicial deference and restraint in the 2 conduct of litigation against it.” Cheney v. U.S. Dist. Court for D.C., 542 U.S. 367, 385 3 (2004) (alterations and internal citations omitted). Plaintiffs’ anticipated discovery will 4 likely lead to multiple discovery disputes. (See JSR at 5-7 (relevance objections), 7-8 5 (privilege issues), and 11-12 (objections to taking depositions of high-ranking and White 6 House officials).) In the context of this case, the “high respect” owed to the Executive 7 warrants a stay to protect Defendants from the burden of resource intensive discovery 8 while the Ninth Circuit addresses issues that may inform the appropriateness, scope, and 9 necessity of that discovery. See id.; see also Clinton, 520 U.S. at 707 (stating that the 10 power to stay proceedings applies “especially in cases of extraordinary public moment”). 11 Thus, the court concludes that this factor weighs heavily in favor of granting Defendants’ 12 motion for a stay pending the outcome of the appeal in Hawaii v. Trump. 13 D. Summary of the Factors 14 The court concludes that the relevant factors weighs in favor of staying these 15 proceedings pending the resolution of the appeal in Hawaii v. Trump. Awaiting the Ninth 16 Circuit’s opinion in that case will promote the orderly course of justice and judicial 17 economy. In addition, Defendants have demonstrated they face hardship or inequity in 18 the absence of a stay in light of Plaintiffs’ anticipated sweeping discovery and the unique 19 nature of this case involving the Chief Executive. See Cheney, 542 U.S. at 385; Clinton, 20 520 U.S. at 707. To the extent that Plaintiffs fear that a stay will harm their ability to 21 preserve evidence, the court has implemented measures described above to mitigate any 22 such possible effects. See supra § III.B. In addition, the Ninth Circuit has placed the ORDER - 11 1 appeal on a fast track and oral argument has already occurred, so the stay will likely be of 2 short duration. Finally, the court orders the parties to file a joint status report within ten 3 days of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling so that the court may evaluate the continued 4 appropriateness of any stay at that time. 5 6 IV. CONCLUSION Based on the foregoing analysis, the court GRANTS Defendants’ motion (Dkt. 7 # 175) for a stay in these proceedings pending the Ninth Circuit’s resolution of the appeal 8 in Hawaii v. Trump. Should circumstances change such that lifting the stay is warranted, 9 any party may move to lift the stay. 10 Dated this 17th day of May, 2017. 11 12 A 13 JAMES L. ROBART United States District Judge 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 ORDER - 12

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