United States District Court, S.D. New York
OPINION AND ORDER
HONORABLE PAUL A. CROTTY, JUDGE
Joseph Cracco was arrested for possession of a gravity knife.
He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and paid a fine.
Cracco wants to continue carrying the same type of knife that
led to his arrest, but fears he will be arrested again. He
seeks declaratory judgment against Defendant Cyrus R. Vance
Jr., in his official capacity as District Attorney for the
County of New York, that New York Penal Law §§
265.00(5) and 265.01(1)-which define a simple possession of a
gravity knife as a crime-are void for vagueness as applied to
any folding knife that has each of the following
characteristics: (1) a "bias toward closure"; (2) a
"lockable blade"; and (3) the "inability to be
readily be opened by gravity or centrifugal force." ECF
9 ("Amended Complaint"), ¶ 80. Cracco
further seeks a specific finding of law that the last
characteristic is satisfied by any folding knife that does
not open by means of a wrist-flick test on the first
attempt. Id. On December 9, 2015, the
Court denied Defendant's motion to dismiss the claim, ECF
and on January 28, 2016, the Court denied Defendant's
motion for reconsideration, ECF 46.
22, 2016, the Court stayed the action pending (1) the
Governor's consideration of the proposed amendment to the
gravity knife statute (Assembly Bill No. 9042-A)
("Bill") and (2) the resolution of the trial on the
papers in Copeland v. Vance, No. 11 Civ. 3918, a
case challenging the constitutionality of the same gravity
knife statute for vagueness, similar to the challenge raised
here. See ECF 49, 52. In early 2017, the Court was
notified that on December 31, 2016, Governor Cuomo vetoed the
Bill, and on January 27, 2017, Judge Forrest rendered her
opinion in Copeland, holding that the gravity knife
statute is not unconstitutional for vagueness. See
ECF 50-1; Copeland, 230 F.Supp.3d 232 (S.D.N.Y
2017). In view of these events, the Court lifted the stay and
parties proceeded to brief their cross-motions for summary
judgment, which are currently pending before the Court.
See ECF 58, 62, 69.
Copeland plaintiffs appealed Judge Forrest's
opinion to the Second Circuit, seeking review of the
"finding that the New York Gravity Knife Law is not void
for vagueness as applied to Plaintiffs." See
Copeland, No. 17-00474 (2d Cir.), Dkt. No. 28
("App. Br."), at 7. Eighteen amici curiae filed
amicus briefs in that appeal. Id. Dkt. No. 114, 119.
The oral arguments were heard on January 18, 2018.
Id. Dkt. No. 122, The issue on appeal in
Copeland is the same as the one here. Plaintiffs in
Copeland contend the gravity knife law is void for
vagueness because the wrist flick test, with which illegal
gravity knives are identified, is "inherently
indeterminate." See App. Br. at 45. This issue
directly bears on whether the gravity knife statute is void
for vagueness when applied to a folding knife that does not
open by means of a wrist-flick test on the first attempt.
See Amended Complaint, ¶ 80.
the relevance of the appeal in Copeland, this Court,
sua sponte, stays this case pending the Second
Circuit's decision in Copeland. "[T]he
power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent
in every court to control the disposition of the causes on
its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for
counsel, and for litigants." Landis v. N. Am,
Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936). The power to stay
proceedings can be exercised sua sponte. See
Infinity Headwear & Apparel, LLC v. Jay Franco &
Sons, Inc., 2017 WL 3309724, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. 2017).
determining whether to enter a stay, courts have applied a
five-factor test, looking to:
"(1) the private interests of the plaintiffs in
proceeding expeditiously with the civil litigation ... (2)
the private interests of and burden on the defendants; (3)
the interests of the courts; (4) the interests of persons not
parties to the civil litigation; and (5) the public
LaSala v. Needham & Co., Inc., 399 F.Supp.2d
421, 427 (S.D.N.Y. 2005). On balance, the five-factor test
favors entering a stay in the instant action. "As to the
interests of the Court and Non-Parties, a stay in the instant
case ... is more likely to promote judicial economy, as well
as potentially obviate irrelevant litigation, including
otherwise unnecessary third-party practice." In
re MPM Silicones, L.L.C., 2017 WL 4386378, at *2
(S.D.N.Y. 2017). "[W]here a higher court is close to
settling an issue of law bearing on the action, " a stay
is favored. LaSala, 399 F.Supp.2d at 427 n.39.
these reasons, the Court stays this action pending the Second
Circuit's decision in Copeland. The Clerk of
Court is directed to terminate the pending cross-motions for
summary judgment (ECF 62, 69), without prejudice to its
renewal within 30 days of the Second Circuit's decision.
 The Court assumes familiarity with the
facts, which are set forth in greater detail the Court's
prior opinions. ECF 37, 38.
 Cracco also named as defendants the
City of New York, Officer Jonathan Correa, and an unnamed
officer, alleging various constitutional and state-law
claims. The Court dismissed ...