The US Supreme Court granted review Monday in one case involving the “favorable termination” rule associated with Section 1983 actions. The court also rejected a final challenge to the 2020 election.
The court granted review in Thompson v. Clark, a Section 1983 case on appeal from the Second Circuit. In the 1994 case Heck v. Humphrey, the Supreme Court established the favorable termination rule: before a plaintiff can recover under federal civil rights laws, he must first show that the criminal proceedings ended in a favorable termination. The court will now consider if that bar can be lowered since Thompson’s criminal proceedings ended in a manner “not inconsistent” with his innocence.
Four NYPD officers responded to a potential child abuse call at the Thompson residence around 10:00 PM on the night of January 15, 2014. Unbeknownst to Thompson, his fiancée’s sister placed the call mistaking diaper rash for signs of child abuse. When Thompson refused to let NYPD officers into his apartment, he was tackled to the floor and handcuffed. The officers would later escort Thompson out of his building in handcuffs and jail him for two days. Thompson was charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental administrations. A few months later, the prosecution dismissed the charges against petitioner without any plea or compromise.
When Thompson’s Section 1983 case went to trial, the police officer defendants argued that for the purposes of the favorable termination rule, the dismissal did not affirmatively demonstrate Thompson’s innocence. Bound by precedent, the district court and the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed.
Thompson v. Clark is scheduled for argument during the court’s October 2021-2022 term.
Additionally, the Supreme Court declined to review a post-election case about the absentee-ballot process used by Wisconsin election officials. Former president Donald Trump argued that Wisconsin election officials violated Article II, Section 1, clause 2 of the Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection during the 2020 election. The justices turned down Trump’s appeal without comment or dissent.