The attorney for two plaintiffs in one of the federal lawsuits against two Hamilton County deputies has asked a federal judge to deny the deputies' request to put the civil case on hold while the criminal investigations continue.
Last week, attorneys for deputies Daniel Wilkey, Bobby Brewer and Jacob Goforth filed motions to pause civil lawsuits filed against their clients, arguing that it would force their clients to respond to the complaints and jeopardize their constitutional right against self-incrimination.
Wilkey, Brewer, Goforth and another deputy, Tyler McRae, are named in multiple lawsuits, both in county and federal court, that allege an array of misconduct during traffic stops, including an alleged baptism of a woman during a February traffic stop and the alleged roadside body cavity search of a man in July. Those two cases have now been moved to federal court.
In the case involving the alleged body cavity search, attorney Robin Flores on Tuesday filed a response, calling the request to pause the civil suit "premature" and "speculative." (A response in the case involving the alleged baptism has not yet been filed.)
Flores notes that pauses in civil litigation are not unusual when a plaintiff seeks to preserve his or her complaint while facing criminal charges.
For example, a plaintiff may file a lawsuit for false arrest before the criminal case has been resolved in order to not let the statute of limitations run out. That plaintiff may then ask for the suit to be put on hold while the criminal case is resolved.
But in this case, Flores argues, there are currently no criminal charges and "there is no reliable indication" that criminal charges are in the works. Though, he did agree his clients have cooperated with criminal investigators and prosecutors.
He also noted "there is no indication that Brewer is to be charged." News reports that were attached to the deputies' request to pause proceedings mostly focused on Wilkey's alleged criminal acts.
"For all anyone knows, Brewer may well have immunity in exchange for testifying against Wilkey," meaning he wouldn't face charges, Flores wrote.
He urged the court to allow the case to move forward with "what is actually happening rather than stay and delay this matter," noting that the passage of time can affect the preservation of evidence, including memories and witnesses.
Additionally, he pointed out that granting such a request could result in a lengthy delay, "which raises the question: when will the stay end? Will it end after lengthy trials; appeals; petitions for post-conviction relief; and the appeals in regard to those petitions?"
The Tennessee Constitution demands rapid resolution, Flores argues, and it's in the public interest to be assured that plaintiffs "and others who have filed and will soon file" lawsuits resulting from Wilkey's alleged misconduct will be able to seek redress from the courts.
"Justice delayed is justice denied," Flores writes. "This Court should deny the motions."