United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
Jane Magnus-Stinson, United States District Court Chief Judge
se Plaintiffs John Stoltzfus and John Riehl initiated
this lawsuit after they were involved in two traffic stops
which resulted in their respective arrests. Mr. Stoltzfus and
Mr. Riehl currently have criminal charges pending against
them in Parke County, Indiana Circuit Court related to those
traffic stops. Defendants have filed a Joint Motion for Stay
of Proceedings, requesting a stay of this litigation until
the criminal charges pending against Plaintiffs are resolved.
[Filing No. 52.] The motion is now ripe for the
March 30, 2017, Deputy Sheriff Cory Hutchins pulled over Mr.
Stoltzfus while he was driving. [Filing No. 1 at
10.] The traffic stop led to Mr. Stoltzfus's arrest,
and also to Mr. Stoltzfus being held in contempt of court.
[Filing No. 1 at 11-13.] On June 1, 2017, Rockville
Police Officer Christopher Fisher pulled Mr. Stoltzfus over
for a traffic violation. [Filing No. 13.] Mr. Riehl
was a passenger in Mr. Stoltzfus's car. [Filing No.1 at
13-14.] The traffic stop resulted in the arrests of both Mr.
Stoltzfus and Mr. Riehl. [Filing No. 1 at 15.] Mr.
Stoltzfus currently has criminal charges pending against him
related to the traffic stops, and Mr. Riehl has criminal
charges pending against him in connection with the June 1,
2017 traffic stop. State of Indiana v. Stoltzfus,
61C01-1706-CM-00153 and State of Indiana v. Riehl,
Stoltzfus and Mr. Riehl initiated this litigation in July
2017, asserting violations of seven Amendments to the United
States Constitution and more than twelve federal statutes
against twenty-seven named individuals and entities and
twenty-five individuals identified as “Does.”
[Filing No. 1.] Their allegations relate to the
March 30, 2017 and June 1, 2017 traffic stops, and their
subsequent arrests and detentions.
their Motion for Stay, Defendants argue that the claims in
this case “arise from and involve the facts and
circumstances in the pending state criminal proceedings (a
law enforcement traffic stop and
arrests).” [Filing No. 52 at 1-2.] They
contend that because Plaintiffs' allegations
“challenge the legality of the traffic stop, detention,
and arrest of the Plaintiffs, ” they “directly
attack the circumstances of the pending state criminal
case.” [Filing No. 52 at 2.] Defendants assert
that a stay under the Younger abstention doctrine is
appropriate, since “the outcome of the State criminal
case will have a practical impact on all the claims in the
Federal case.” [Filing No. 52 at 3.]
oppose Defendants' motion, arguing that their criminal
cases “must be deemed a civil matter, or more properly,
a mere infraction.” [Filing No. 53 at 1.] They
argue that “[n]either Parke Circuit Court nor the State
of Indiana holds a valid claim on either of the cases
Defendants referred to, but Plaintiffs hold a Superior Bonded
Claim backed by actual silver coins on both cases, rendering
any other claims on the case inferior and invalid.”
[Filing No. 53 at 2.]
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.'” Texas Indep.
Producers & Royalty Owners Ass'n v. E.P.A., 410
F.3d 964, 980 (7th Cir. 2005) (quoting Landis v. N. Am.
Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936)). “How this can best
be done calls for the exercise of judgment, which must weigh
competing interests and maintain an even balance.”
Landis, 299 U.S. at 254-55. “The proponent of
a stay bears the burden of establishing its need.”
Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 708 (1997).
Younger abstention doctrine “is an exception
to the general rule that federal courts must hear and decide
cases within their jurisdiction.” Mulholland v.
Marion Cty. Election Bd., 746 F.3d 811, 815 (7th Cir.
2014) (citing Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 37
(1971)). “[P]rinciples of equity, comity, and
federalism” are the foundation of the doctrine. SKS
& Assocs., Inc. v. Dart, 619 F.3d 674, 676 (7th Cir.
2010). Younger provides that “federal courts
should abstain from interfering with ongoing state judicial
proceedings that are judicial in nature, involve important
state interests, provide an adequate opportunity to raise
federal claims, and do not contain special circumstances that
would make abstention inappropriate.” Sykes v. Cook
Cty. Circuit Court Prob. Div., 837 F.3d 736, 740 (7th
claims here relate to their traffic stops, arrests, and
subsequent detentions. Younger abstention is
appropriate “where there is an action in state court
against the federal plaintiff[s] and the state is seeking to
enforce the contested law in that proceeding.”
Forth One News, Inc. v. Cnty. of Lake,491 F.3d 662,
665 (7th Cir. 2007). Because Plaintiffs' criminal cases
related to the traffic stops remain pending, and because this
litigation relates directly to the propriety of those traffic
stops and the subsequent arrests and detentions, the Court
finds that a stay of this case under the Younger
abstention doctrine is appropriate. SeeHermann
v. Wisconsin, 2017 WL 3669562, *7 (W.D. Wis. 2017) (stay
of false arrest claim under Younger abstention
doctrine was proper where state court proceeding remained
pending); Bailey v. City of Chicago, 2014 WL
3865829, *1 (N.D. Ill. 2014) (claim under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for City's alleged failure ...