CA7: Franks is settled law, and false statements to procure arrest warrant denied qualified immunity

Plaintiff stated a Franks claim that his arrest warrant was based on false evidence and omitted exculpatory evidence. The officer is denied qualified immunity. Rainsberger v. Benner, 17 2521 (7th Cir. Jan. 15, 2019):

William Rainsberger was charged with murdering his elderly mother. But the detective who built the case against him, Charles Benner, may have been dishonest. According to Rainsberger, Benner submitted a probable cause affidavit that was riddled with lies and undercut by the omission of exculpatory evidence. Based on that affidavit, Rainsberger was arrested, charged, and imprisoned for two months. When the prosecutor dismissed the case because of evidentiary problems, Rainsberger sued Benner under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violating his Fourth Amendmentrights. Benner moved for summary judgment, arguing that he was entitled to qualified immunity. The district court denied his motion, and he now asks us to reverse the district court.

We decline to do so. Benner concedes for purposes of this appeal that he knowingly or recklessly made false statements in the probable cause affidavit. He emphasizes, however, that knowingly or recklessly misleading the magistrate in a probable cause affidavit—whether by omissions or outright lies—only violates the Fourth Amendment if the omissions and lies were material to probable cause. He claims that his weren’t, but we disagree. Materiality depends on whether the affidavit demonstrates probable cause when the lies are taken out and the exculpatory evidence is added in. And when that is done here, Benner’s affidavit fails to establish probable cause to believe that Rainsberger murdered his mother. Because it is clearly established that it violates the Fourth Amendment “to use deliberately falsified allegations to demonstrate probable cause,” Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154, 168 (1978), Benner is not entitled to qualified immunity.

This entry was posted in § 1983 / Bivens, Franks doctrine, Qualified immunity. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.