Greensboro City Attorney Chuck Watts explained to the City Council on Tuesday, June 16 that the city had not requested a “stay” in the lawsuit over the death of Marcus Deon Smith.
Smith died on Sept. 8, 2018 after being restrained by police with a Ripp Hobble device.
Marcus Smith’s parents, Mary and George Smith, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Greensboro, Guilford County, the police officers and the Emergency Medical Technicians who were involved.
Watts began his explanation by saying, “As a general matter, as a lawyer, I try to litigate cases in court, not in public.”
He said, “There is no stay being requested.” Watts explained that a stay would stop all litigation and that on Wednesday, June 17, there was a meeting to try and resolve one outstanding issue.
He said, “One of the things that has come to light is that the parties that are plaintiffs in the matter may not be the appropriate plaintiffs because of the finding that there are children involved and these children need to be protected and represented in this matter.”
Watts explained that the city had asked that discovery not start until they were sure who the plaintiffs were, but that would not necessarily delay the trial.
According to the brief filed on June 12, the City of Greensboro has asked for a “temporary stay in the start of discovery” until it is determined whether or not Marcus Smith had children. According to the brief, Marcus Smith may have had three children who would be his heirs and if he does have heirs other than his mother and father, that would affect discovery as well as the case itself.
Watts said, “We have not asked for a stay and don’t expect that what we have asked for will delay the trial at all.”
Watts said that both parties had agreed to discovery for a year and that was supposed to start in August and be completed in August of 2021. He said typically there would be motions after discovery that would take 60 to 90 days and then the trial would start. If that timeline holds that would put the beginning of the trial some time in the fall of 2021.
Watts said, “It is the slow, painful pace of litigation.”
He said, “Things have come to light to us that were known to the other side.”