High court opens door wider to malicious prosecution claims

Apr 4, 2022, 12:19 AM | Updated: 12:23 pm
The U.S. Supreme Court is seen, Friday, March 18, 2022 in Washington. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)...

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen, Friday, March 18, 2022 in Washington. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a victory for people falsely accused by police of crimes, the Supreme Court removed a barrier Monday to lawsuits against law enforcement for malicious prosecution.

The 6-3 ruling means that some malicious prosecution lawsuits that had previously been thrown out at an early stage will instead be allowed to move forward. The ruling was joined by both liberal and conservative justices.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote for the majority of the court that a person seeking to sue for malicious prosecution under a federal civil rights law has to prove that the case brought against him “ended without a conviction.” The justices rejected a higher bar that federal appeals courts in much of the country had adopted that said the person had to show their case ended because they were innocent.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote in a dissent that his colleagues’ decision “has no basis in the Constitution and is almost certain to lead to confusion.” He was joined by two other conservative justices, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Neil Gorsuch.

The case before the justices involved the 2014 arrest of Brooklyn resident Larry Thompson who sued for malicious prosecution after charges against him resulting from a scuffle with police were dropped.

Lower courts ruled against Thompson saying it wasn’t enough that the case against him ended without a conviction. They said he had to show it ended with “affirmative indications of innocence” such as an acquittal or a dismissal by a judge along with a statement that the evidence was insufficient. The Supreme Court disagreed.

Thompson’s lawyer Amir Ali of the MacArthur Justice Center said in an interview he was “very pleased with the court’s decision” and that it was “welcome and needed.” Ali said that prior to the court’s decision there was a “completely unjust and really senseless barrier to bringing these lawsuits” and that the court had “removed that unjust barrier.” Ali said his client will now “have his day in court” and get the opportunity to prove his malicious prosecution claim.

The case against Thompson began when authorities were called to his apartment. Thompson’s sister-in-law, whom Thompson’s lawyers said has “cognitive delays,” called 911 to report Thompson was sexually abusing his infant daughter. Initially two EMTs arrived and Thompson, not knowing his sister-in-law had called, told them they had the wrong apartment.

After the EMTs left, police officers arrived and Thompson refused to let them in without a warrant. After a scuffle, Thompson was arrested and charged with resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration. He was held two days, but the charges against him were dropped.

The baby was examined at the hospital and no evidence of abuse was found, only diaper rash. Thompson’s lawsuit followed.

The Biden administration had urged the court to side with Thompson as did the American Civil Liberties Union and NAACP, among other organizations.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Much of drought-plagued West Coast faces salmon fishing ban

The surreal and desperate scramble boosted the survival rate of the hatchery-raised fish, but still it was not enough to reverse the declining stocks in the face of added challenges.
3 days ago
UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr. (24) shoots while defended by Gonzaga's Rasir Bolton (45) in the first half...
Associated Press

Gonzaga beats UCLA 79-76 in Sweet 16 on Strawther’s shot

Julian Strawther hit a 3-pointer with 6 seconds left to answer a 3-pointer by UCLA's Amari Bailey, lifting Gonzaga to a wild 79-76 NCAA Tournament win over UCLA Thursday night in the Sweet 16.
3 days ago
Associated Press

Officials: Safety device, human error derailed Wash. train

A safety device failed, knocking a train off the tracks last week, spilling diesel after leaving an oil refinery in Anacortes.
3 days ago
File - Credit cards as seen July 1, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. A low credit score can hurt your ability...
Associated Press

What the Fed rate increase means for your credit card bill

The Federal Reserve raised its key rate by another quarter point Wednesday, bringing it to the highest level in 15 years as part of an ongoing effort to ease inflation by making borrowing more expensive.
4 days ago
police lights distracted drivers shooting...
Associated Press

Authorities: Missing mom, daughter in Washington found dead

A missing Washington state woman and her daughter were found dead Wednesday, according to police.
4 days ago
Associated Press

Google’s artificially intelligent ‘Bard’ set for next stage

Google announced Tuesday it's allowing more people to interact with “ Bard,” the artificially intelligent chatbot the company is building to counter Microsoft's early lead in a pivotal battleground of technology.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.
SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
High court opens door wider to malicious prosecution claims