Manuel v. City of Joliet

PETITIONER: Elijah Manuel
RESPONDENT: City of Joliet, Illinois, et al.
LOCATION: City of Joliet

DOCKET NO.: 14-9496
DECIDED BY:
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: US ()
GRANTED: Jan 15, 2016
ARGUED: Oct 05, 2016

ADVOCATES:
Michael A. Scodro - for respondents
Ilana Eisenstein - for United States, as amicus curiae
Stanley B. Eisenhammer - for petitioner

Facts of the case

Elijah Manuel was a passenger in a car that was pulled over for failing to signal on March 18, 2011. When the police officer detected an odor of marijuana in the car, he dragged Manuel out of the car, pushed and kicked him, and handcuffed him. The officer found a bottle of pills in Manuel’s pocket during his pat-down. The pills were tested and the officers falsified the results to show the pills were ecstasy. The initial positive pill results were later tested at the scene of the arrest. More detailed negative lab results were presented by Manuel later. Manuel was arrested based on these initial results. The officers continued to rely on the false positive initial test throughout the grand jury proceedings, and he was held until May 4, when the Assistant State’s Attorney sought dismissal of the charges.

Manuel sued the City of Joliet and various city officials and alleged malicious prosecution as well as other civil rights claims. The district court dismissed most of Manuel’s claims as falling outside of the statute of limitations. His malicious prosecution claim was not time-barred, however, but was dismissed under Newsome v. McCabe, which held that federal claims of malicious prosecution stem from the right to due process and are not a Fourth Amendment issue. Therefore, there was no malicious prosecution claim under federal law if the state provided a similar cause of action, as Illinois did. On appeal, Manuel argued that Newsome did not foreclose a malicious prosecution claim on Fourth Amendment grounds when officers misrepresented evidence. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the lower court’s ruling against Manuel as consistent with the Newsome precedent.

Question

Does an individual’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure continue beyond the legal process to allow a malicious prosecution claim based on the Fourth Amendment?

Media for Manuel v. City of Joliet

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 05, 2016 in Manuel v. City of Joliet

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

 We'll hear next in Case 14-9496, Manuel v. The City of Joliet. Mr. Eisenhammer.

Stanley B. Eisenhammer:

 Mr. Chief Justice, and it please the Court: I would like to make three initial points. First, what this case is about is whether the Petitioner may bring a Fourth Amendment claim for unlawful detention pursuant to legal process. Second, this case is not about whether the decision to prosecute is governed by due process, the Fourth Amendment, or any other amendment. And third, this case is not about whether there's some constitutional tort named malicious prosecution.  All we ask the Court to do is to affirm your numerous -- numerous suggestions made in Albright that the Fourth Amendment supports this cause of action, and bring the Seventh Circuit in line with all other -- with the Tenth Circuit ruling on this.

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

 Well, but you to get past the statute of limitations problem and to do that, you need to characterize it, as I understand it, as a malicious prosecution claim.  Otherwise, it's time-barred.

Stanley B. Eisenhammer:

 What -- what I need what we need to do is determine the -- not the statute of limitations, which is two years, set by State -- State -- by the State, but the accrual period.  And in Wallace, the Court has said that we -- you normally look to, not the State law, but it's a Federal question, that you normally look in reference to the common law. And in Wallace, they did say that that would be malicious prosecution that does have as an accrual period favorable termination.

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

 But favorable termination has nothing to do with the Fourth Amendment claim, right?  And whether your prosecution is just favorably terminated or not, the Fourth Amendment claim and, it seems to me, the accrual begins when your Fourth Amendment rights are violated with, say, an illegal search. Whether you eventually are convicted or acquitted, really, you have a claim for an illegal search if there's been an illegal search without regard to favorable termination.

Stanley B. Eisenhammer:

 But our claim, technically, here is it is detention without probable cause, not the search that occurred when he's -- when he was arrested.

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

 Right.  But I regardless, whatever the Fourth Amendment claim is.

Stanley B. Eisenhammer:

 Right.  And that went through for 48 days after he -- after he became subject to legal process.  I guess --

Sonia Sotomayor:

 Was he subject to legal process?  If legal process is corrupted because there isn't -- I always understood legal process as used in Wallace and earlier of our cases as an independent intermediary, generally a judge or a grand jury or someone who looks at the facts as they exist and independently makes a determination whether probable cause has happened. If you have a corrupted legal process where what the independent adjudicator is looking at is not true because it's based on false information, have you received legal process -- proper legal process?

Stanley B. Eisenhammer:

 You haven't proper legal process.  You're -- you're correct.  It's been corrupted because --

Sonia Sotomayor:

 And so I thought you've never received it, then doesn't your time to accrue for the improper detention occur when you're no longer detained?  Here, it was the not guilty; correct?

Stanley B. Eisenhammer:

 Correct.

Sonia Sotomayor:

 So it's not a of whether -- when it starts.  The question is:  When does the illegal detention finish?

Stanley B. Eisenhammer:

 Correct.

Sonia Sotomayor:

 And because you have there's been no intermediate force, no intermediary stepping in and breaking the chain of causation; correct?

Stanley B. Eisenhammer:

 Correct.  That's.

Sonia Sotomayor:

 Am I understanding argument correctly?

Stanley B. Eisenhammer:

 Yes.  You are, I wish I could take credit for that, but -- (Laughter.)

Sonia Sotomayor:

 No, but I'm -- I -- I the only way I could think of it was thinking of it in this way, because you're not claiming malicious prosecution or not.

Stanley B. Eisenhammer:

 Right.  Right. Wallace talked about malicious prosecution.  And this is a larger issue of 1983 jurisdiction, which is, you know, what is a proper accrual period for a constitutional -- a constitutional violation.  We don't -- we're not --

Sonia Sotomayor:

 So detention probable --

Stanley B. Eisenhammer:

 -- cause.  Right. don't -- you're not -- you're not straightjacketed into a particular common-law provision.  You're -- you have the right to fashion one that does justice, and this is the one that does -- does justice.

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

 I was confused. thought there was a malicious prosecution claim here, mostly because the question presented says, "Whether an individual's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure continues beyond legal process so as to allow a malicious prosecution claim based upon the Fourth Amendment."

Stanley B. Eisenhammer:

 Yes.  But that's -- just a label, and that's what -- what the court, at least in Wallace, has used as a label for talking about these type of claims, and in other -- in Gerstein, too. It's just -- it's just a label to, in a sense, distinguish this case from detention without legal process.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

 Let me give you a hypothetical.  This is actually close to this case. Officer fabricates evidence in order to arrest and book the defendant.  Then there's a Gerstein hearing within 48 hours.  Evidence is still fabricated; same fabricated evidence is introduced.  He's held for three months. Then there's a pretrial suppression hearing.  The evidence is still fabricated, and he's still held for two more months.  Then there's a trial.  Evidence is still fabricated and he's convicted and he's held for six more months.  Then there's an appeal filed, and then suddenly they find out the evidence was fabricated and -- and the charges are dismissed. Fourth Amendment violation for the entire detention?

Stanley B. Eisenhammer:

 No.  We would say Fourth Amendment -- at least based on your cases -- the Fourth -- the Fourth Amendment claim ends at conviction.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

 Okay.

Stanley B. Eisenhammer:

 And then the due claim or whatever.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

 Why is the trial conviction any different than the Gerstein hearing? They're -- they're both a legal process.  There's an inquiry.  Why is it that the Fourth Amendment applies after the Gerstein hearing but not after the conviction?

Stanley B. Eisenhammer:

 One reason is that Gerstein -- the Gerstein hearing is a nonadversarial hearing, so it would be a -- a grand jury proceeding. While a -- a conviction, in a sense, presumes that you're -- you're -- you -- you are -- you are held with probable cause, and then you really have a due process claim after that.

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