CA5: Probable cause defeats a malicious prosecution claim

Probable cause defeats a malicious prosecution claim. Payton v. Town of Maringouin, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 21506 (5th Cir. Aug. 3, 2022):

The Supreme Court recently recognized a Fourth Amendment claim under § 1983 for malicious prosecution in Thompson v. Clark, 142 S. Ct. 1332, 1335 (2022). The Court explained that “[t]o maintain [a] Fourth Amendment claim under § 1983, a plaintiff … must demonstrate, among other things, that he obtained a favorable termination of the underlying criminal prosecution.” Id. It clarified however, that “a plaintiff need only show that his prosecution ended without a conviction,” not that it “ended with some affirmative indication of innocence.” Id. at 1335, 1341.

Here, although Payton’s prosecution ended without a conviction, that is, DA Ward refused all the charges against her, Payton’s malicious prosecution claim still fails because, unlike in Winfrey, the affidavits supporting the warrant for her arrest established probable cause. Accordingly, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment dismissing Payton’s Fourth Amendment malicious prosecution claim.

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