Ex parte Grady R. Edmondson
Karen S. Edmondson In re: Grady R. Edmondson
Circuit Court, DR-15-500106
PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS
R. Edmondson ("the husband") has filed a petition
for the writ of mandamus directing the Mobile Circuit Court
("the trial court") set aside its March 8, 2017,
order staying the divorce action involving the husband and
Karen S. Edmondson ("the wife"). The wife has
answered the husband's petition and joins in his request
that the trial court be ordered to set aside the March 8,
2017, order. The facts underlying the issuance of the March
8, 2017, order are taken from the husband's petition, the
wife's answer to that petition, and the materials
appended to the husband's petition.
first day of the divorce trial, the husband was called as a
witness. Counsel for the wife asked the husband whether he
had had sexual relations with a woman not his wife more than
365 days before the date of trial. The husband's counsel
objected, and the husband asserted his Fifth Amendment
privilege against self-incrimination. The trial court stopped
the trial, imposed a temporary stay on the proceedings, and
asked the parties to file letter briefs explaining the
parties' positions regarding the husband's right to
assert his Fifth Amendment privilege against
self-incrimination when questioned regarding any allegedly
considering the parties' letter briefs, the trial court
entered an order staying the divorce action on March 8, 2017.
The order explains that the trial court had
"determine[d] from the subject of the question [posed to
the husband at trial] that the current divorce proceeding and
any potential criminal proceedings would be parallel
proceedings, and the [husband's] Fifth Amendment
protection against self-incrimination in any such criminal
proceedings would be threatened if the divorce proceeding is
not stayed in accordance with the provisions and standards
set forth in [Ex parte] Rawls, 953 So.2d 374 (2006).
Therefore, the trial of the divorce is stayed pending
resolution of any criminal charges against [the husband] and
said charges against [the husband], if any, are adjudicated
at the trial level."
order, the trial court set the case for a status hearing on
September 26, 2017, "for the parties to provide the
[trial] court with an update on any potential criminal
charges against [the husband] at that time."
husband timely filed this petition for the writ of mandamus.
He seeks a writ requiring the trial court to lift the stay it
imposed on the parties' divorce action. He asserts, and
the wife agrees, that neither party requested or desires a
stay of the divorce action.
"'A writ of mandamus is an extraordinary remedy that
is available when a trial court has exceeded its discretion.
Ex parte Fidelity Bank, 893 So.2d 1116, 1119 (Ala.
2004). A writ of mandamus is "appropriate when the
petitioner can show (1) a clear legal right to the order
sought; (2) an imperative duty upon the respondent to
perform, accompanied by a refusal to do so; (3) the lack of
another adequate remedy; and (4) the properly invoked
jurisdiction of the court." Ex parte BOC Group,
Inc., 823 So.2d 1270, 1272 (Ala. 2001).'
"Ex parte Antonucci, 917 So.2d 825, 830 (Ala.
2005). 'Mandamus will be granted only where an abuse of
discretion is shown.' Ex parte McMahan, 507
So.2d 492, 493 (Ala. 1987)."
Ex parte Rawls, 953 So.2d 374, 377 (Ala. 2006).
court has the inherent power to issue a stay of proceedings
pending before it. Landis v. North American Co., 299
U.S. 248, 254 (1936) (explaining that "the power to stay
proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every
court to control the disposition of the causes on its docket
with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and
for litigants"). Our supreme court set out some of the
considerations applicable to the exercise of the power to
stay in Ex parte American Family Care, Inc., 91
So.3d 682, 683 (Ala. 2012):
"In considering a stay, courts must always be mindful of
'[t]he interest of the plaintiff in proceeding
expeditiously with the civil litigation ... and the potential
prejudice to the plaintiff of a delay in the progress of that
litigation.' Ex parte Ebbers, 871 So.2d 776, 789
(Ala. 2003). ...
"It is well established that '[a] stay must not be
"immoderate."' Ortega Trujillo v. Conover
& Co. Commc'ns, Inc., 221 F.3d 1262, 1264 (11th
Cir. 2000) (quoting CTI-Container Leasing Corp. v.
Uiterwyk Corp., 685 F.2d 1284, 1288 (11th Cir. 1982)).
'In considering whether a stay is "immoderate,
" [appellate courts] examine both the scope of the stay
(including its potential ...