United States District Court, D. New Mexico
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO STAY
MATTER comes before the Court on the County Defendants'
Motion for a Stay of all Discovery and a Protective Order
Pending the Court's Decision on Defendant Edwards'
Motion for Judgment on the Pleading and for Qualified
Immunity. Doc. 31. On November 13, 2019, Defendant Brian
Edwards filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and for
Qualified Immunity, seeking judgment on the pleadings or
qualified immunity as to all claims brought against him. Doc.
29. On that same day, Defendants Board of County
Commissioners of the County of Sandoval and Brian Edwards
(hereinafter “County Defendants”) filed the
present Motion to Stay, requesting that all discovery in this
matter be stayed pending resolution of Defendant Edwards'
qualified immunity motion. Doc. 31 at 5. County Defendants
also request a protective order relieving them from
responding to outstanding written discovery until the motion
for qualified immunity is resolved. Id.
indicate in their Motion to Stay that, pursuant to Local Rule
7.1(a), they sought Plaintiff's position but Plaintiff
did not respond, so they presume the motion to be opposed.
Doc. 31 at 1 n1. Plaintiff did not file a response in
opposition to the motion, and the time for doing so has
elapsed. See D.N.M.LR. Civ. 7.4(a). Plaintiff's
failure to respond constitutes consent to grant the motion.
D.N.M.LR. Civ. 7.1(b).
“qualified immunity is not only a defense to liability
but also entitlement to immunity from suit and other demands
of litigation. Discovery should not be allowed until the
court resolves the threshold question whether the law was
clearly established at the time the allegedly unlawful action
occurred.” Workman v. Jordan, 958 F.2d 332,
336 (10th Cir. 1992) (citation omitted). Accordingly, in
cases where qualified immunity is asserted in a dispositive
motion, the movant is ordinarily entitled to a stay of
discovery until the qualified immunity question is resolved.
See Jiron v. City of Lakewood, 392 F.3d 410, 414
(10th Cir. 2004); Workman, 958 F.2d at 336.
Reaffirming its long-held view that discovery should be
stayed when qualified immunity is asserted, the United States
Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, reasoned as
The basic thrust of the qualified-immunity doctrine is to
free officials from the concerns of litigation, including
“avoidance of disruptive discovery” . . . There
are serious and legitimate reasons for this. If a government
official is to devote time to his or her duties, and to the
formulation of sound and responsible policies, it is
counterproductive to require the substantial diversion that
is attendant to participating in litigation and making
informed decisions as to how it should proceed. Litigation,
though necessary to ensure that officials comply with the
law, exacts heavy costs in terms of efficiency and
expenditure of valuable time and resources that might
otherwise be directed to the proper execution of the work of
the government . . . .
556 U.S. 662, 685 (2009).
Court sees no reason to depart from the general rule that
once a defendant files a dispositive motion asserting
qualified immunity, discovery must be stayed. See
Jiron, 392 F.3d at 414 (reasoning that because qualified
immunity is an entitlement not to face the burdens of
litigation, “[e]ven pretrial matters such as discovery
are to be avoided if possible”); Workman, 985
F.2d at 336 (concluding that discovery “should not be
allowed” until the court makes a requested qualified
immunity determination). While only Defendant Edwards is
asserting qualified immunity, Iqbal holds that all
discovery should be stayed upon the assertion of qualified
immunity, even for those defendants not asserting the
defense. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 685.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the County
Defendants' Motion for a Stay of all Discovery and a
Protective Order Pending the Court's Decision on
Defendant Edwards' Motion for Judgment on the Pleading
and for Qualified Immunity, Doc. 31, is
IS FURTHER ORDERED that discovery in this matter is
stayed pending resolution of Defendant Edwards' Motion
for Judgment on the Pleadings and for Qualified Immunity,
Doc. 29. The County Defendants are relieved from responding
to any outstanding discovery requests until the Court rules
on that motion. Upon resolution of that ...