Judges who take up the rule of “favorable termination”
By Amy Howe
on March 8, 2021
at 12:38 p.m.
The Supreme Court added a new case to its fall arena on Monday, taking up the case of a Brooklyn man trying to sue New York City Police Department officials for malicious prosecution after being jailed for two days on later charges dismiss. Monday’s announcement that the judges would hear a hearing in Thompson against Clark was the only grant from the judges’ private conference last week. The court has not acted in any of the high-profile cases up for consideration at that conference, including challenging a Mississippi law banning virtually all abortions after 15 weeks of gestation and former President Donald’s battle over injury to the first Trump change when he blocked people criticizing him on Twitter.
More than 25 years ago, the Supreme Court in Heck against Humphrey stipulated the so-called “favorable termination rule”: Before a plaintiff can recover from an allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment under the civil rights laws of the federal government, he must first prove that the criminal has the proceedings ended with a favorable ending – for example, it was overturned on appeal, or the plaintiff received post-federal condemnation relief indicating his innocence. The judges issued Thompson v. Clark on Monday a ruling on whether the favorable dismissal rule requires a plaintiff to demonstrate that the criminal proceedings were terminated in a manner that is “not incompatible” with their innocence, or whether the plaintiff should instead raise the bar must comply and show that the trial ended in a way that affirms his innocence.
The judges agreed to resolve that issue in the case of Larry Thompson, a New Yorker who was accused of defying arrest and obstructing government administration when he refused to allow police to enter late at night and Going into his home without a warrant to investigate his toddler daughter for possible child molestation. The police responded to an emergency call from Thompson’s fiancé’s sister. Rescue workers took the baby to the hospital where they found it had a diaper rash.
Thompson repeatedly denied doing anything wrong and turned down offers to settle the case without going to court. The prosecution eventually dismissed the charges against him, telling the court that “the people are dismissing the case in the interests of justice”.
When Thompson’s malicious prosecution was brought to justice, the police officers he sued argued that dismissing his case for the purposes of the favorable dismissal rule would have to affirm that Thompson was innocent – which she had not. Thompson countered that it was sufficient to dismiss the charges against him. Both the District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd circuit sided with the police officers and were bound by a 2018 appeals court ruling. Thompson came to the Supreme Court in November asking the judges to weigh up. They agreed on Monday.
The judges denied Trump’s review of the procedures used in the 2020 elections in the last appeal. In the Trump versus Wisconsin Electoral Commission, Trump asked the Supreme Court to consider whether the postal voting process used by Wisconsin electoral officials violated the US Constitution. The Wisconsin officials named in the lawsuit waived their right to oppose Trump’s appeal, and the court did not request a response. The judges rejected Trump’s appeal on Monday without comment and without any justice, which found a contradiction to this result.
This article was originally published by Howe on the Court.