CA11: § 1983 malicious prosecution claim defeated by PC even though exonerating information omitted from arrest affidavit

Plaintiff police officers’ false arrest claim fails on qualified immunity. Even though allegedly exonerating information was omitted from the arrest affidavits, and the criminal case was dropped by the state’s attorney, it wasn’t enough to undermine the probable cause that was established without it (a question for trial in the prosecution). Therefore, qualified immunity applies. Paez v. Mulvey, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3917 (11th Cir. Feb. 8, 2019):

This appeal turns on the second part of the federal malicious prosecution claim: whether Paez, Peters, and Diaz were unreasonably seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment. If the conduct alleged did not violate the Fourth Amendment, the Appellants would be entitled to qualified immunity and the suit must be dismissed. A § 1983 malicious prosecution claim includes, though is not limited to, an unconstitutional arrest. See, e.g., Kingsland, 382 F.3d at 1235; Kjellsen v. Mills, 517 F.3d 1232, 1238 (11th Cir. 2008); Whiting v. Traylor, 85 F.3d 581, 584 (11th Cir. 1996); see also Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 484, 114 S. Ct. 2364, 129 L. Ed. 2d 383 (1994). An arrest made without probable cause is an unreasonable seizure. See, e.g., Grider v. City of Auburn, 618 F.3d 1240, 1256 (11th Cir. 2010). The Fourth Amendment provides, in pertinent part, that “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation,” U.S. Const. amend. IV, and the law requires that a warrant for an arrest be supported by “sufficient information to establish probable cause,” Holmes v. Kucynda, 321 F.3d 1069, 1083 (11th Cir. 2003) (citing Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154, 164, 98 S. Ct. 2674, 57 L. Ed. 2d 667 (1978)); see also Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238-39, 103 S. Ct. 2317, 76 L. Ed. 2d 527 (1983). Probable cause, in turn, is established “when the facts and circumstances within the officer’s knowledge, of which he or she has reasonably trustworthy information, would cause a prudent person to believe, under the circumstances shown, that the suspect has committed, is committing, or is about to commit an offense.” Durruthy v. Pastor, 351 F.3d 1080, 1088 (11th Cir. 2003) (emphasis omitted) (quoting McCormick v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 333 F.3d 1234, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003)).

The affidavits alleged that there was probable cause to believe each Appellee had committed multiple crimes. At oral argument, all of the parties conceded that the existence of probable cause (or even arguable probable cause) as to any one offense would defeat a § 1983 malicious prosecution claim. …

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