US Supreme Court Affirms Wallace v. Kato Ruling

The United States Supreme Court has affirmed the Seventh Circuit's holding in Wallace v. Kato, et al. The Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by Justice Scalia, held that the statute of limitations upon a section 1983 claim seeking damages for false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment, where the arrest is followed by criminal proceedings, begins to run at the time the claimant becomes detained pursuant to to legal process. As background, in January 1994, the Chicago police arrested Wallace for murder. He was tried and convicted, but the charges were later dropped in April 2002. In April 2003, Wallace filed suit under section 1983 against the City of Chicago and several police offices , seeking damages for, among other things, his alleged unlawful arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The District Court granted summary judgment and the Seventh Circuit affirmed, ruling that the section 1983 suit was time barred because Wallace's cause of action accrued at the time of his arrest,  not when his conviction was later set aside. In a written opinion dated February 21, 2007, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the Seventh Circuit's ruling. The case was argued before the Supreme Court by Benna Ruth Solomon on behalf of the City of Chicago.

Seventh Circuit Affirms Granting Of Summary Judgment And Striking Of Expert Report

In Mannoia v. Farrow, an arrestee sued a police detective under Section 1983 and state tort law alleging the detective violated his Fourth Amendment rights by intentionally misrepresenting facts to the judge who issued an arrest warrant. District Court Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment and, in doing so, struck the report of plaintiff's police procedures expert for failing to comply with Rule 26(a)(2). On appeal, the Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that the plaintiff had not shown that the detective acted deliberately or with reckless disregard for the truth or made misrepresentations to the issuing judge that were necessary to the probable cause determination. The court further held that "[b]ecause plaintiff cannot establish that [the detective] violated his Fourth Amendment rights, we conclude [the detective] is protected from suit by the defense of qualified immunity. The court further found it was proper to strike the expert report for failure to comply with Rule 26(a)(2). This opinion is available on Westlaw at 2007 WL 397497.

Thompson v. City of Chicago - Seventh Circuit Affirms Motion In Limine Rulings

On December 5, 2000, James Thompson died after he struggled with police officers who were trying to handcuff him. The Cook County Medical Examiner ruled Thompson's death a homicide, concluding that Thompson died at least in part from a "choke hold." Thompson's mother and wife filed suit in the Northern District of Illinois against the City of Chicago and eleven Chicago Police Officers. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated Thompson's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by using excessive force. Prior to trial, the defendants filed several motions in limine including motions seeking to bar the plaintiffs from introducing: (1) the opinion testimony of officers from the CPD's Office of Professional Standards concerning their investigation into Thompson's death and (2) the CPD's General Orders, practices and policies (or the Officers failure to act in accordance with those Orders, practices and policies). The District Court judge, the Honorable Amy J. St. Eve, granted the motions and the case proceeded to trial. The jury found in favor of the defendants. Plaintiffs appealed, claiming the District Court erred in granting the motions in limine. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit affirmed. The court held that "[i]n this case, the text of the CPD's General Orders pertaining to the use of force would not have been of any consequence whatsoever and would have failed to advance the inquiry into whether Officer Hespe violated Thompson's Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force in apprehending him." The court stated that "[w]hether Officer Hespe's conduct conformed with the internal CPD General Orders concerning the use of force on an assailant was irrelevant to the jury's determination of whether his actions on December 5, 2000 were 'objectively reasonable' under the Fourth Amendment." Finally, the court affirmed the District Court's exclusion of expert testimony concerning excessive force, stating "whatever insight Inspector Lukas and Sgt. Campbell might have had into whether or why Officer Hespe used excessive force would have been of little value except as to possibly causing confusion and bore a substantial risk of prejudice." The opinion was authored by Judge Coffey and joined by Judges Evans and Williams.

Murder Suspect James Ealy Was Previously Convicted Of Murder But His Conviction Was Reversed In 1986

James Ealy, the suspect in last week's strangulation murder of Mary Hutchison, was convicted over 20 years ago for the strangulation murders of Kristina Parker, Mary Anne Parker, Cora Parker and Jontae Parker. Each  victim had died as a result of ligature strangulation. Detectives found a bundle of clothing under Ealy's bed, including green cloth similar to that found around Mary Ann Parker's neck, a knife handle that matched a blade found in the victims' apartment, bed sheets with red stains and a child's sweater. Shortly after being confronted with this evidence, Ealy confessed to strangling the victims after they "made fun of his red eyes." Ealy brought a motion to suppress his confession, claiming he was denied food, water and sleep and that he confessed because he "couldn't take it" any more. This motion was denied. Ealy elected not to testify at trial and he was convicted of four counts of murder and sentenced to natural life imprisonment by Judge Thomas J. Maloney. But, in 1986, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, reversed his conviction and ordered a new trial. On appeal, the State conceded that no probable cause to arrest Ealy existed at the time he was first taken from his residence by detectives. However, the State argued that Ealy was not "seized" at that time so as to require probable cause. The court disagreed, stating that Ealy was continuously interrogated over an 18-hour period, during which he was denied food and water and only given one bathroom break. The court held that "a reasonable, innocent person in defendant's position would not have believed he was free to leave." The court further stated that "We also find that the unconstitutional misconduct of the police was a purposeful expedition for evidence in the hope of obtaining sufficient information upon which to predicate the probable cause necessary for defendant's arrest." The court went on to hold that "since the police lacked probable cause to arrest defendant at the time they took him from his residence, which the State concedes, we hold that defendant was illegally seized in violation of the fourth amendment." The opinion was written by Justice James C. Murray and joined by justices R. Eugene Pincham and Francis Lorenz. On appeal, Ealy was represented by Jenner & Block attorneys Robert L. Graham and Randall E. Mehrberg.