In the Duke lacrosse case, on the Fourth Amendment malicious prosecution issue, police officers who told the prosecutor that the case was weak and presented him what exculpatory evidence they had were entitled to qualified immunity. Evans v. Chalmers, 703 F.3d 636 (4th Cir. 2012):
The Evans plaintiffs do not allege that Officers Gottlieb and Himan misled or misinformed Nifong. Indeed, the Evans plaintiffs expressly allege that, from the outset, the officers candidly briefed Nifong as to the startling weaknesses in the case by "detail[ing] the extraordinary evidence of innocence and the fatal defects in Mangum's claims" and "convey[ing] to Nifong that Mangum was not credible." The Evans plaintiffs nonetheless insist that the officers remain liable because they "misrepresented, withheld, or falsified evidence" that ultimately influenced the grand jury. This argument fails because acts of either the prosecutor or the grand jury may break the causal chain. Cf. Cuadra, 626 F.3d at 813; Barts, 865 F.2d at 1195. In other words, if the independent act of a prosecutor breaks the causal chain, the fact that the prosecutor misled the grand jury does not render police officers liable.
Alternatively, the Evans plaintiffs maintain that Officers Gottlieb and Himan conspired with Nifong to fabricate and conceal evidence from the grand jury and thus somehow unduly pressured Nifong to seek the indictment. The allegations in their complaint significantly undercut this argument. For the Evans plaintiffs ground their entire case on allegations that Nifong desired to exploit the "high-profile, racially-charged rape allegation for his personal political gain." They further allege that from his very first meeting with the officers, Nifong noted the lack of exculpatory evidence: "we're f*cked." Tellingly, the Evans plaintiffs do not assert that Officers Gottlieb and Himan responded by pressuring Nifong to pursue the case. Rather, they allege that the officers continued the investigation at Nifong's instruction, and that, when Nifong sought to indict the Evans plaintiffs, Officer Himan frankly responded, "With what?" No matter how generously read, these allegations do not allege that Officers Gottlieb and Himan pressured Nifong to seek an indictment.
Moreover, it seems contrary to the very purpose of qualified immunity to extend personal liability to police officers who have assertedly conspired with, but neither misled nor unduly pressured, an independent prosecutor. Police officers and prosecutors often work together to establish probable cause and seek indictments; such collaboration could always be characterized as a "conspiracy." Allowing § 1983 claims against police officers to proceed on allegations of such a "conspiracy" would in virtually every case render the officers' qualified immunity from suit "effectively lost," Mitchell, 472 U.S. at 526, and make discovery the rule, rather than the exception, see Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 639-40 & n.2 (1987).
Thus, we hold today that an alleged officer-prosecutor conspiracy does not alter the rule that a prosecutor's independent decision to seek an indictment breaks the causal chain unless the officer has misled or unduly pressured the prosecutor. Because the Evans plaintiffs do not allege that Officers Gottlieb and Himan either misled or pressured Nifong to seek their indictments, we reverse the district court's denial of the officers' motions to dismiss the Evans plaintiffs' § 1983 malicious prosecution claims against them.
This is just the Fourth Amendment issue. This clearly is the correct result. The officers did all they could do, so why should they be held liable when the idiot prosecutor filed charges? It was clear to me that they didn't want him to file, and they were just presenting what they had after gathering evidence of innocence, too.
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"If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. It isn't, and they don't."
"Love work; hate mastery over others; and avoid intimacy with the government."
—Shemaya, in the Thalmud
"A system of law that not only makes certain conduct criminal, but also lays
down rules for the conduct of the authorities, often becomes complex in its
application to individual cases, and will from time to time produce imperfect
results, especially if one's attention is confined to the particular case at
bar. Some criminals do go free because of the necessity of keeping
government and its servants in their place. That is one of the costs of having
and enforcing a Bill of Rights. This country is built on the assumption that
the cost is worth paying, and that in the long run we are all both freer and
safer if the Constitution is strictly enforced."
—Williams v. Nix, 700 F. 2d 1164, 1173 (8th Cir. 1983) (Richard Sheppard Arnold, J.), rev'd Nix v. Williams, 467 US. 431 (1984).
"The criminal goes free, if he must, but it is the law that sets him free. Nothing
can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws,
or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence."
—Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 659 (1961).
Any costs the exclusionary rule are costs imposed directly by the Fourth Amendment.
—Yale Kamisar, 86 Mich.L.Rev. 1, 36 n. 151 (1987).
"There have been powerful hydraulic pressures throughout our history that
bear heavily on the Court to water down constitutional guarantees and give the
police the upper hand. That hydraulic pressure has probably never been greater
than it is today."
— Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 39 (1968) (Douglas, J., dissenting).
"The great end, for which men entered into society, was to secure their
—Entick v. Carrington, 19 How.St.Tr. 1029, 1066, 95 Eng. Rep. 807 (C.P. 1765)
"It is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have
frequently been forged in controversies involving not very nice people. And
so, while we are concerned here with a shabby defrauder, we must deal with his
case in the context of what are really the great themes expressed by the Fourth
—United States v. Rabinowitz, 339 U.S. 56, 69 (1950) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting)
"The course of true law pertaining to searches and seizures, as enunciated
here, has not–to put it mildly–run smooth."
—Chapman v. United States, 365 U.S. 610, 618 (1961) (Frankfurter, J., concurring).
"A search is a search, even if it happens to disclose nothing but the
bottom of a turntable."
—Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321, 325 (1987)
"For the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places. What a person knowingly
exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth
Amendment protection. ... But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in
an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected."
—Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 351 (1967)
“Experience should teach us to be most on guard to
protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born
to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded
rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men
of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”
—United States v. Olmstead, 277 U.S. 438, 479 (1925) (Brandeis, J., dissenting)
“Liberty—the freedom from unwarranted
intrusion by government—is as easily lost through insistent nibbles by
government officials who seek to do their jobs too well as by those whose purpose
it is to oppress; the piranha can be as deadly as the shark.”
—United States v. $124,570, 873 F.2d 1240, 1246 (9th Cir. 1989)
"You can't always get what you want /
But if you try sometimes / You just might find / You get what you need."
—Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
"In Germany, they first came for the communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for
the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Catholic. Then they came
for me–and by that time there was nobody left to speak up."
—Martin Niemöller (1945) [he served seven years in a concentration camp]
“You know, most men would get discouraged by
now. Fortunately for you, I am not most men!”
—Pepé Le Pew
"There is never enough time, unless you are serving it."
"The point of the Fourth Amendment, which often is not grasped by zealous officers, is not that it denies law enforcement the support of the usual inferences which reasonable men draw from evidence. Its protection consists in requiring that those inferences be drawn by a neutral and detached magistrate instead of being judged by the officer engaged in the often competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime."
—Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10, 13-14 (1948)