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Court Decides Against Defendant's Discovery Abuses in Texas Police Shooting Case

The decedent was discovered naked in an automobile masturbating, and he refused to come out, so of course the police killed him.

At 207:
"This case is a prime example of a troubling trend in civil rights cases. Time after time, individual defendants seek a stay of all discovery until the issue of qualified immunity is resolved. Yet these defendants do not seek a ruling on their immunity defense until they move for summary judgment. Invariably, the summary judgment motion is not limited to the issue of qualified immunity but covers the underlying substantive claims as well. Such maneuvering perverts the purposes of the discovery stay, creates inefficiency and confusion in the resolution of qualified immunity cases, and unfairly blind-sides plaintiffs by forcing them to respond to evidence until they have an opportunity to conduct discovery. The Court intends to end this practice today."

After further denouncing the defendants' actions (failing to raise summary judgment with respect to the pleadings, getting a discovery stay, filing for summary judgment presenting their factual assertions, and opposing any discovery for the plaintiff until qualified immunity is decided), the court allows considerable documentary discovery and depositions of the six police officers who submitted affidavits seeking summary judgment, as well as depositions of one supervisory official. It notes that the municipality is not covered by qualified immunity. At 210 n. 8: "... [P]arties who may be entitled to qualified immunity are not necessarily exempt from discovery when called as a witness [sic] to claims against a non-immune defendant." The court rejects the notion that this is an end run around the protections of qualified immunity. See: Estate of Sorrells v. City of Dallas, 192 F.R.D. 203 (N.D.Tex. 2000).

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Related legal case

Estate of Sorrells v. City of Dallas