Case Law Alerts
Third circuit emphasizes importance of proper prosecution of underlying criminal charges in a civil rights suit, holding that fourth amendment claim of an illegal search can be overcome by plaintiff's unsuccessful attempt at suppression.
The plaintiff, a state prisoner, filed a civil rights complaint against the defendants, a detective, an officer and a district attorney, claiming that his Fourth Shepardize, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights had been violated in connection with his arrest and detention. The defendants moved to dismiss. The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania converted the motions into summary judgment motions and granted the motions. The prisoner appealed. The prisoner claimed that the detective and the officer violated his Fourth Amendment rights when they entered his mother's home without a warrant because his mother did not consent to their entry. The court found that the claim was barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel because a state court already considered it at a suppression hearing. The detective and the officer had probable cause to arrest the prisoner because several eyewitnesses provided the same physical description of the prisoner, some even identifying him by name; the witnesses reported that the prisoner was driving a tan van; and the officers were able to locate the owner of the van, who confirmed that the prisoner had borrowed it to drive to his mother's house. The defendants did not violate the prisoner's Fourth Amendment rights by detaining him for ten hours before bringing him before a proper issuing authority. The district court correctly rejected the prisoner's claims of false arrest and false imprisonment because the officers had probable cause to arrest him.
Case Law Alert - 1st Qtr 2010