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Porter v. Buckler

United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky, Northern Division, Ashland

April 28, 2015



Edward B. Atkins United States Magistrate Judge

This matter is before the underDated: Defendant Earl E. Buckler’s Motion to Stay. [R. 17]. Therein, Buckler requests that this Court enter a protective order staying discovery pending resolution of his appeal to the Kentucky Court of Appeals in a parallel criminal proceeding. [R. 17 at 2-3]. Plaintiff, Michael Ann Porter, opposes Buckler’s motion.[1] [R. 22]. For the reasons that follow, Buckler’s Motion to Stay [R. 17] will be GRANTED.


A. Factual & Procedural Background

On March 4, 2014, a Carter County grand jury indicted Buckler on two counts of third-degree sodomy. [R. 17-2]. The first count of the indictment alleged that on or about a date in October, 2013, Buckler, a court security and transport officer, subjected Porter, an incarcerated inmate, to deviate sexual intercourse. [R. 17-2]. The second count alleged the same offense against another inmate, Sarah Terry. [R. 17-2].

On August 21, 2014, subsequent to Buckler’s indictment in Carter County, Porter filed her complaint in this Court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [R. 1]. Porter’s complaint alleges that Buckler, a Court Security Supervisor with the Carter County Sheriffs Department, sexually assaulted and sodomized her while transporting her from the Carter County Circuit Courtroom to the Carter County Detention Center. [R. 1 at ¶ 8].

Sometime after Porter filed her civil complaint, Buckler entered a conditional guilty plea in Carter Circuit Court.[2] [R. 17-3]. The Carter Circuit Court entered its judgment and sentence on March 30, 2015, sentencing Buckler to a maximum term of three years on Count I and dismissing Count II. [R. 17-3]. The judgment included an addendum explaining that Buckler reserved the right to appeal issues raised before the Carter Circuit Court surrounding the applicability of KRS 510.090 and KRS 520.010 to his case. [R. 17-3 at 4].

To clarify the contours of Buckler’s conditional plea, the Court notes that KRS 510.090 sets forth the elements of third-degree sodomy. Under KRS 510.090(e), a defendant is guilty of third-degree sodomy when he subjects an incarcerated person to deviate sexual intercourse while he is “a jailer, or an employee, contractor, vendor, or volunteer of the Department of Corrections, Department of Juvenile Justice, or a detention facility as defined in KRS 520.010 . . . .” (emphasis added). Therefore, although this point is not explained in Buckler’s motion to stay, it appears that Buckler’s plea only allows him to appeal whether he meets the statutory definition of the type of penal employee/volunteer who may be found guilty of third-degree sodomy for abuse of his position of authority.

At any rate, shortly after the Carter Circuit Court entered its judgment, Buckler filed a notice of appeal to the Kentucky Court of Appeals. [R. 17-5]. Thereafter, on April 3, 2015, Buckler filed his Motion to Stay. [R. 17]. In the motion, Buckler contends that any answers he might provide in discovery in this case could potentially incriminate him in his criminal case if the Kentucky Court of Appeals reverses his conviction and the case has to go to trial. [R. 17 at 2-3].

B. Applicable Law

The Sixth Circuit has held that “nothing in the Constitution requires a civil action to be stayed in the face of a pending or impending criminal indictment.” F.T.C. v. E.M.A. Nationwide, Inc., 767 F.3d 611, 627 (6th Cir. 2014) (quoting Chao v. Fleming, 498 F.Supp.2d 1034, 1037 (W.D. Mich. 2007)). “As a result, district courts have ‘broad discretion in determining whether to stay a civil action while a criminal action is pending or impending.’” Id. (quoting Chao, 498 F.Supp.2d at 1037). The factors that guide this Court’s discretion in such circumstances are:

1) the extent to which the issues in the criminal case overlap with those presented in the civil case; 2) the status of the case, including whether the defendants have been indicted; 3) the private interests of the plaintiffs in proceeding expeditiously weighed against the prejudice to plaintiffs caused by the delay; 4) the private interests of and burden on the defendants; 5) the interests of the courts; and 6) the public interest.

Id. (citing Chao, 498 F.Supp.2d at 1037). With these factors in mind, the Court will consider ...

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