On this score, appellees have little to offer. To the best of our knowledge, every court of appeals that has considered the question of whether a state actor has violated the defendant’s right to due process of law by fabricating evidence to charge or convict the defendant has answered the question in the affirmative. See Whitlock v. Brueggemann, 682 F.3d 567, 585 (7th Cir. 2012) (collecting court of appeals cases).
Furthermore, the Fourth Amendment is the only constitutional predicate that the District Court found covered Halsey’s evidence-fabrication count. Halsey, 2013 WL 646200, at *8-9. In these circumstances, we, too, will focus on the Fourth Amendment when discussing malicious prosecutions claims. We add, however, that even if a fabrication claim could be tied to a claim under a constitutional provision other than the Fourth Amendment, we would see no reason why the fabrication-claim could not stand alone. Pfeiffer’s br. at 30-31. See Johnson, 477 F.3d at 81-82.
Halsey, however, grounds the right to be free from fabricated evidence on the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process of law.15 Appellant’s br. at 25-26. The boundary between Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment claims is, at its core, temporal. The Fourth Amendment forbids a state from detaining an individual unless the state actor reasonably believes that the individual has committed a crime—that is, the Fourth Amendment forbids a detention without probable cause. See, generally, Bailey v. United States, __ U.S. __, 133 S.Ct. 1031, 1037 (2013). But this protection against unlawful seizures extends only until trial. See Schneyder v. Smith, 653 F.3d 313, 321 (3d Cir. 2011) (observing that post-conviction incarceration does not implicate the Fourth Amendment). The guarantee of due process of law, by contrast, is not so limited as it protects defendants during an entire criminal proceeding through and after trial. Pierce v. Gilchrist, 359 F.3d 1279, 1285-86 (10th Cir. 2004)
We need not decide how strong the connection must be between a police officer’s misconduct and the defendant’s eventual prosecution for the officer to be liable in a malicious prosecution action. Compare Robinson v. Maruffi, 895 F.2d 649, 656 (10th Cir. 1990) (requiring police officers to have been “instrumental” in the confinement and prosecution of the plaintiff (quoting Jones, 858 F.2d at 994)), and Peterson v. Bernardi, 719 F. Supp. 2d 419, 431 n.12 (D.N.J. 2010) (“[T]here must be a showing that the misconduct significantly contributed to the decision to prosecute.”), with Sykes, 625 F.3d at 317 (requiring only that officers “influence[d]” the decision to prosecute), and Ricciuti, 124 F.3d at 130 (requiring officers to have “played a role” in the initiation of the prosecution).
S.L. filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that her arrest by Lorthridge and Arnold, and the cover up of that arrest by Harris and Isshawn-O’Quinn, had violated her constitutional rights. She claimed that Arnold and Lorthridge had violated her Fourth Amendment rights by making a false arrest and that Lieutenant Isshawn-O’Quinn had participated in the violation by suggesting and approving a falsified incident report. S.L. also alleged that the four police officers had conspired to cover up a false arrest in violation of § 1983. She claimed that Arnold, Lorthridge, Isshawn-O’Quinn, and Harris had violated her Fourteenth Amendment rights “to due process, property, equal protection under the law, and equal justice” by “conspir[ing] together and with others, including the son of Defendant Arnold, and reach[ing] a mutual understanding to undertake a course of conduct that violated [S.L.’s] civil rights.” Such evidence could support a finding that S.L. was injured as a result of Lorthridge’s overt act of filing the false police report and Isshawn-O’Quinn’s act of approving it. The “very purpose of § 1983 [is] to interpose the federal courts between the States and the people . . . [and] to protect the people from unconstitutional action under color of state law.” Mitchum, 407 U.S. at 242. There is supporting evidence that Harris and Isshawn-O’Quinn deliberately falsified arrest records to protect the department’s reputation following Arnold and Lorthridge’s abusive misconduct. In such circumstances S.L. has the right to bring a § 1983 action against them for unlawfully covering up a constitutional violation. The Supreme Court has long held that “civil rights actions are of ‘fundamental importance . . . in our constitutional scheme’ because they directly protect our most valued rights,” Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 828 (1977), and has observed that it was through the enactment of § 1983 that “the role of the Federal Government as a guarantor of basic federal rights against state power was clearly established,” Mitchum, 407 U.S. at 238–39. Our court has similarly suggested that “intentional” police misconduct “ar[ising] from a conspiracy” would violate a plaintiff’s clearly established constitutionalrights. Mettler v. Whitledge, 165 F.3d 1197, 1206 (8th Cir. 1999). We conclude that conspiring to prevent a plaintiff from bringing a viable § 1983 action by covering up a false arrest therefore may amount to a violation of a clearly established right. A reasonable officer would be aware that it is impermissible to assist in falsifying an arrest report or hinder an investigation into the underlying misconduct. Nor is this a circumstance in which officers unwittingly accepted a falsified arrest report or disclosed details of an investigation. Rather, Isshawn-O’Quinn instructed Lorthridge to fabricate portions of the report, resulting in her inserting a false witness, false place of arrest, and false incident summary. He then approved the modified report without question or comment. Drawing “reasonable inferences in [S.L.’s] favor,” Nance, 586 F.3d at 609, the record similarly supports that Harris disclosed confidential information to Arnold in order to assist her in concealing facts sought by investigators. See S.L., a minor, by next friend Ron Lenderman Plaintiff – Appellee v. St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Board of Police Commissioners; Richard Gray, Vice President; Bettye Battle-Turner, President; Michael L. Gerdine, Treasurer; Francis G. Slay, Ex-Officio Member; United States Court of Appeals For the Eighth Circuit No. 12-3193
In Evans v. Durham, the U.S. District Judge James A. Beaty Jr., in a ruling, refused to dismiss the former students’ claims that their constitutional rights were violated through malicious prosecution, concealment of evidence and fabrication of false evidence. “The intentional use of false or misleading evidence before a grand jury to obtain an indictment and arrest without probable cause is exactly the type of unreasonable search and seizure that the Fourth Amendment was designed to protect against,” the judge said. The players in October 2007 sued Mike Nifong, the former prosecutor, the city, police officers and lab personnel in federal court in Durham, calling the case “one of the most chilling episodes of premeditated police, prosecutorial and scientific misconduct in modern American history,” according to their complaint. The athletes claim the officials violated their rights under the Fourth Amendment, which requires probable cause to issue warrants, and the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection of law. See Evans v. Durham, 07-00739, U.S. District Court, Middle District of North Carolina (Durham).
It is settled law that “officers who conceal and misrepresent material facts to the district attorney are not insulated from a § 1983 claim for malicious prosecution simply because the prosecutor, grand jury, trial court, and appellate court all act independently to facilitate erroneous convictions.” Pierce, 359 F.3d at 1292; see also Ricciuti, 124 F.3d at 130; Jones v. City of Chicago, 856 F.2d 985, 994 (7th Cir. 1988). If the officers influenced or participated in the decision to institute criminal proceedings, they can be liable for malicious prosecution. Sykes v. Anderson, 625 F.3d 294, 308-09, 317 (6th Cir. 2010).(“More than 30 years ago this Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot tolerate a state criminal conviction obtained by the knowing use of false evidence.”).
Investigators, including appellees, should have known long before Halsey’s prosecution that they would be violating a defendant’s constitutional rights if they knowingly used fabricated evidence to bring about his prosecution or to help secure his conviction, particularly if the investigators themselves had fabricated the evidence. Cf. Devereaux, 263 F.3d at 1075 (“[T]he wrongfulness of charging someone on the basis of deliberately fabricated evidence is sufficiently obvious, and Pyle is sufficiently analogous, that the right to be free from such charges is a constitutional right.”).
Indeed, it has been an axiomatic principle of our justice system that “those charged with upholding the law are prohibited from deliberately fabricating evidence and framing individuals for crimes they did not commit.” Limone v. Condon, 372 F.3d 39, 45 (1st Cir. 2004). As the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit said in Limone, “we are unsure what due process entails if not protection against deliberate framing under color of official sanction.” Id. Halsey v. Pfeiffer – Third Circuit
Our foregoing conclusion recognizing the existence of a stand-alone section 1983 Fourteenth Amendment claim predicated on the use of fabricated evidence does not end our inquiry into whether the District Court erred in dismissing Halsey’s fabrication count. Appellees also argue that because, back in 1985, we had not explicitly recognized Fourteenth Amendment stand-alone claims based on the fabrication of evidence, they are entitled to a qualified immunity defense on the fabrication of evidence claim as “it would not [have been] known to an officer what the elements of such a claim are or how it would be applied and analyzed by a court.” Pfeiffer br. at 35. We disagree. Halsey v. Pfeiffer – Third Circuit
The requirement is in line with our own precedent, though until today we have not had occasion to apply it in the fabrication context. See, e.g., Lamont v. New Jersey, 637 F.3d 177, 185 (3d Cir. 2011) (“Like a tort plaintiff, a § 1983 plaintiff must establish both causation in fact and proximate causation.”). Because the record at summary judgment established that Halsey’s fabricated confession was critical to his conviction, we do not decide whether the mere introduction of falsified evidence at trial—without regard to its significance in the context of other evidence considered by the jury—is necessarily sufficient to satisfy the causal link. Nor do we decide whether a defendant acquitted at a trial where fabricated evidence has been used against him has an actionable section 1983 claim. We note, however, that if fabricated evidence is used as a basis for a criminal charge that would not have been filed without its use the defendant certainly has suffered an injury. Halsey v. Pfeiffer – Third Circuit
We hold that if a defendant has been convicted at a trial at which the prosecution has used fabricated evidence, the defendant has a stand-alone claim under section 1983 based on the Fourteenth Amendment if there is a reasonable likelihood that, without the use of that evidence, the defendant would not have been convicted. Halsey v. Pfeiffer – Third Circuit
Stemler v. City of Florence, 126 F.3d 856, 872 (6th Cir. 1997) (holding that knowing use of fabricated evidence violates a criminal defendant’s right to due process and is actionable “if there is a reasonable likelihood that the false evidence could have affected the judgment of the jury”). As these cases show, we are not the first court to reach our conclusion.
Falsification of evidence, like other “bad-faith conduct,” can be “probative of a lack of probable cause.” Peterson v. Bernardi, 719 F. Supp. 2d 419, 428 (D.N.J. 2010). But that view is reconcilable with a conclusion that there is an independent falsification claim for “[c]ertain wrongs affect more than a single right and, accordingly, can implicate more than one of the Constitution’s commands.” Soldal v. Cook Cnty., 506 U.S. 56, 70, 111 S.Ct. 538, 548 (1992); see also Gregory v. City of Louisville, 444 F.3d 723, 750-54 (6th Cir. 2006) (reversing district court’s conclusion that one factual premise could not form the bases of separate claims of constitutional violations under section 1983).
The use of fraudulent evidence is a corruption of the “truth seeking” process of the trial court constituting a violation of due process rights. See United States v. Agurs, 427 U.S. 97, 107 (1976) and Millver v. Paste, 386 U.S. 1 (1967) (finding that a deliberate misrepresentation of truth to a jury is a violation of due process); Caldwell v. Mississippi, 472 U.S. 320 (1985) (fining that an uncorrected, misleading statement of law to a jury violated due process); Darden v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 168, 181-82 (1986) (improper argument and manipulation or misstatement of evidence violates Due Process). Cf. Mesarosh v. United States, 352 U.S. 1, 14 (1956) (reversing convictions based on Solicitor General’s disclosure that an important government witness had committed perjury in other proceedings, stating that the Court had a duty “to see that the waters of justice are not polluted”). See also New Jersey Bank v. Azco Realty Co., supra. See also Taylor v. Mitchell, supra (involving illegality); Knox v. Kaelber, 140 N.J. Eq. 598 (E. & A. 1947) (involving fraud plus culpable silence)] knowing their pleadings, certifications, and evidence submitted are all false.