U.S.-District-Court

By Shea Johnson
Staff Writer Follow @@DP_Shea
Posted Apr. 25, 2016 at 4:20 PM
Updated Apr 25, 2016 at 5:47 PM

With an FBI and federal grand jury probe still active, attorneys for law enforcement officials ensnared in allegations of widespread inmate abuse at West Valley Detention Center want to keep seven federal lawsuits on pause, court records show.

The civil suits have been stayed for a year. With the most recent extension on the verge of expiring March 31, a joint status report filed March 22 revealed attorneys for San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon, Jail Commander Jeff Rose, several deputies and two civilian employees would seek an additional three-month stay.

“As there are still expected further lawsuits and the individual defendants are still facing the prospect of criminal charges,” the report said, “the defendants will seek an additional 90 day stay of the proceedings.”

On April 11, Victorville-based attorneys Stanley W. Hodge, Jim Terrell and Sharon Brunner, representing current and former inmates, opposed any further delay in steering the cases to trial without the promise of a settlement conference.

But in a motion filed April 18, the defendants’ attorneys laid out the rationale behind continuing the stay.

“Defendants’ intent in seeking the stays has been nothing other than to avoid the prejudice which will necessary follow from the invocation by parties and witnesses of the Fifth Amendment privilege,” attorneys wrote in the filing last week.

Citing the pending FBI investigation, “a short extension of the stay makes abundant sense given the important constitutional issues at stake and the significant harm Defendants will suffer if the stay is not extended,” attorneys wrote.

Allowing the criminal probe to unfold, they said, will put attorneys and the court “in a better position to re-evaluate any necessity of further extending the stay.”

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