CA5: Ptf’s 4A claims were Heck barred because they would interfere with the state prosecution.

Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment claims were Heck barred because they would interfere with the state prosecution. Shipman v. Sowell, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 8736 (5th Cir. Mar. 23, 2019):

In any event, Shipman’s Fourth Amendment allegations fail because Sclider’s affidavit demonstrated probable cause to believe that an unlicensed auction of vehicles without adequate paperwork was about to occur. “Probable cause exists when the totality of the facts and circumstances within a police officer’s knowledge at the moment of the [action] are sufficient for a reasonable person to conclude that the suspect had committed or was committing an offense.” Cuadra v. Houston Indep. Sch. Dist., 626 F.3d 808, 813 (5th Cir. 2010) (internal citation omitted). In addition to the investigative facts recited hereinabove, Sclider reported in his search warrant affidavit the actual complaint of a person who alleged that Shipman was selling vehicles without proper authorization.

Shipman also alleges Fourth Amendment claims against Grimes County Sheriff Donald Sowell for refusing to return his vehicles and office paperwork for more than a year. This claim is distinct from his unreasonable-search claim because it challenges the ongoing detention of property that occurred after the search and, if actionable, does not necessarily impugn Shipman’s conviction. We assume arguendo that Heck does not bar this claim. See Bush v. Strain, 513 F.3d 492, 498 (5th Cir. 2008) (holding that Heck does not bar claims for conduct that is “temporally and conceptually distinct” from the basis of the plaintiff’s conviction).

Nevertheless, the unreasonable detention claim cannot survive the heightened pleading standards established by Iqbal. The vehicles in question were lawfully seized pursuant to a valid warrant and remained in law enforcement custody only until the criminal case was adjudicated. Shipman argues that the trial court’s dismissal of the most serious offenses against him proves that Sowell lacked probable cause to continue holding his vehicles after the raid. The Supreme Court, however, has held that courts should not “evaluate probable cause in hindsight, based on what a search does or does not turn up.” Florida v. Harris, 568 U.S. 237, 249, 133 S. Ct. 1050, 1059 (2013) (citation omitted). The same principle must apply to criminal trials—the dismissal of some charges does not prove that a search or seizure was unreasonable when it occurred.

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