Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Gustave v. City of New York

October 6, 2010

EDWINA K. GUSTAVE AND MERANDÉ S. GUSTAVE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Roanne L. Mann, United States Magistrate Judge.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Pro se plaintiffs Edwina and MerandéGustave ("Edwina," "Merandé," and, collectively, "plaintiffs")filed the above-referenced civil suit (the "instant Civil Matter"), asserting claims arising from Edwina's arrest on April 20, 2009 and subsequent state criminal prosecution (the "Criminal Proceeding").*fn1 Plaintiffs allege that several officers of the New York Police Department ("NYPD") entered their home without permission or cause, arrested Edwina without cause, and assaulted both plaintiffs during the course of the arrest. See Compl. at pp. 3, 5, 15, ECF Docket Entry ("D.E.") #1. Plaintiffs also allege that Edwina is being maliciously prosecuted and that numerous procedural violations have occurred during the Criminal Proceeding. See generally id. at pp. 7-15. The Criminal Proceeding is still pending in Queens County Criminal Court.*fn2

Currently pending before this Court is the City defendants' request for a stay of the instant Civil Matter pending the disposition of the Criminal Proceeding, and plaintiffs' cross-motion for a stay of the Criminal Proceeding.

For the reasons that follow, with one limited exception, the City defendants' request for a stay of the instant Civil Matter is granted, and plaintiffs' cross-motion to stay the Criminal Proceeding is denied.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The instant Civil Matter was transferred to this Court from the District of Columbia on June 28, 210. See Order (June 28, 2010), D.E. #3. Various defendants were served on August 13, 2010. See Summonses (Aug. 13, 2010), D.E. #4-#11.

In a letter dated August 26, 2010, the City defendants first requested a stay of the instant Civil Matter, pending the disposition of plaintiff Edwina's parallel Criminal Proceeding. See Letter to the Court from Alexandra Corsi (Aug. 26, 2010) ("City 8/26/10 Letter") at 2, D.E. #14. The Court denied this request without prejudice, providing the City defendants an opportunity to renew its request after attempting to secure plaintiffs' consent. See Order (Aug. 26, 2010), D.E. #16. After plaintiffs failed to respond to an inquiry from the City defendants, the latter renewed their request for a stay. See Letter to the Court from Alexandra Corsi (Sept. 7, 2010) ("City 9/7/10 Letter") at 2, D.E. #21; Letter to the Court from Alexandra Corsi (Sept. 21, 2010) ("City 9/21/10 Letter") at 2, D.E. #31.

Both plaintiffs now object to a stay of the instant Civil Matter, see Letter to the Court from Edwina Gustave (Sept. 8, 2010) ("Edwina 9/8/10 Letter") at 1, D.E. #26; Letter to the Court from Merandé Gustave (Sept. 23, 2010) at 1, D.E. #35, and request that the Court instead stay Edwina's Criminal Proceeding. See, e.g., Letter to the Court from Merandé Gustave (Sept. 13, 2010) ("Merandé 9/13/10 Letter") at 1, D.E. #27; Letter to the Court from Merandé Gustave (September 23, 2010) ("Merandé 9/23/10 Letter") at 1-3, D.E. #34. The City defendants and Queens Criminal Court all oppose a stay of the Criminal Proceeding. See City 9/21/10 Letter at 2, D.E. #31; Letter to the Court from Roberta L. Martin (Sept. 21, 2010) ("Queens Criminal Court 9/21/10 Letter") at 1-2, D.E. #32.

DISCUSSION

I. Plaintiffs' Motion to Stay the State Criminal Proceeding

The law is clear that as a general rule, federal courts may not enjoin state court proceedings. See 28 U.S.C. § 2283 ("A court of the United States may not grant an injunction to stay proceedings in a State court except as expressly authorized by Act of Congress, or where necessary in aid of its jurisdiction, or to protect or effectuate its judgments."); Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 45 (1971) ("[T]he normal thing to do when federal courts are asked to enjoin pending proceedings in state courts is not to issue such injunctions."). Federal courts may enjoin state criminal proceedings only "under extraordinary circumstances, where the danger of irreparable loss is both great and immediate." Younger, 401 U.S. at 45 (quoting Fenner v. Boykin, 271 U.S. 240, 243 (1926)). "Certain types of injury, in particular, the cost, anxiety, and inconvenience of having to defend against a single criminal prosecution, could not by themselves be considered 'irreparable' in the special legal sense of that term." Id. at 46. Thus, where the injury to the accused is "solely that incidental to every criminal proceeding brought lawfully and in good faith, . . . he is not entitled to equitable relief," even where the statute under which he is prosecuted is to be claimed unconstitutional. Id. at 49 (internal quotation and citations omitted). A challenge to a state prosecution as "unauthorized and hence unlawful" will not, without more, warrant federal intervention. Id. at 46 (quoting Watson v. Buck, 313 U.S. 387, 400 (1941)).

Plaintiffs have not demonstrated that the continuation of the Criminal Proceeding against Edwina creates a danger of great and immediate irreparable loss, within the meaning of Younger. As the sole basis for any alleged injury, plaintiffs cite "North Shore/LIJ Health Systems allegations . . . [sic]." Merandé 9/13/10 Letter at 1, D.E. #27. The referenced "allegations," however, are North Shore's denial of any involvement in causing the injuries alleged in the civil complaint, and denial of any knowledge of or liability for any criminal acts by third parties. See North Shore's Answer (Aug. 25, 2010) ¶¶ 8, 10, D.E. #15. Contrary to plaintiffs' assertions, North Shore's denial of liability for any criminal acts committed by others does not constitute evidence that some other party did in factengage in such acts, nor does it show a danger of irreparable injury. Plaintiffs do not contend that the continuation of the Criminal Proceedings poses any injury other than that inherent in any criminal prosecution -- an insufficient basis for intervention by a federal court. See Younger, 405 U.S. at 49. Whatever the validity of the criminal charges or state court rulings, federal intervention is not available except to prevent great and immediate irreparable injury to the accused. See id. at 45. Where, as here, no such injury is threatened, a federal court will not interfere with a state criminal prosecution. Therefore, plaintiffs' motion to stay the Criminal Proceeding is denied.

II. The City Defendants' Motion to Stay The Federal Civil Matter

In contrast, federal courts have the discretionary authority to stay a civil action pending the resolution of a parallel criminal case when "the interests of justice" so require. United States v. Kordel, 397 U.S. 1, 12 n.27 (1970) (listing numerous cases in which federal courts stayed civil proceedings pending the completion of parallel criminal prosecutions); Mack v. Varelas, 835 F.2d 995, 999-1000 (2d Cir. 1987) (ordering stay of civil rights action pending resolution of parallel state criminal proceedings). A stay may be appropriate for reasons of judicial economy and to await the state court's resolution of overlapping issues. See, e.g., Mack, 835 F.2d at 999 (a stay of federal civil action was warranted "because one possible outcome of the state court proceedings could negate an essential element of [plaintiff's] claim"); Giulini v. Blessing, 654 F.2d 189, 193 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.