If this truly works out the way it seems ... then this is simply an evil result.
STNG ::Wrongly jailed Illinois man may get nothing
Chicago Sun Times
November 7, 2006
WASHINGTON--Andre Wallace faces the distinct possibility that the legal system that wrongly kept him in jail for a third of his life will now tell him he waited too long to seek compensation. Several Supreme Court justices indicated Monday they are inclined to agree with lower court rulings that Wallace missed a deadline by waiting until 2003 to sue the Chicago Police officers who arrested him illegally in 1994.
Wallace was freed from prison in 2002, after Illinois courts ruled his arrest was illegal, reversed his murder conviction and caused prosecutors to drop charges against him. He had been in custody since shortly after John Handy was shot to death in 1994, when Wallace was 15. He had two years in which to file his civil rights lawsuit. The question before the justices is whether the two-year clock began running when Wallace was arrested in 1994, when he was released from custody in 2002, or at some point in between. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Wallace should have taken some action in the two years following his arrest. In similar cases in other parts of the country, appeals courts have said false arrest claims can't be filed until convictions are nullified.
Kenneth Flaxman, Wallace's lawyer, said the court would compound his client's injury by telling him the statute of limitations had expired. ''It's just tough. You're seized for 8 and a half years and you can't go to state court and you can't go to federal court,'' Flaxman said....
Wallace, Andre v. Kato, Kristen & Roy, Eugene
Medill Home > Graduate Journalism > Special Programs > On the Docket > 2006-2007 Term
BY JASON HORN, MEDILL NEWS SERVICE
Somebody shot and killed John Handy at a house in Chicago on Jan. 17, 1994. Two days later, Detectives Kristen Kato and Eugene Roy of the Chicago Police Department were dispatched to investigate, and on information from witnesses and informants, brought 15-year-old Andre Wallace in for questioning. Wallace told the detectives he was 17, so he was treated as an adult suspect.
At around 6 a.m., after an all-night interrogation, Wallace confessed to the killing. The police claim that Wallace was free to leave at any point during the questioning, but Wallace says that he was locked in an interrogation room and that Kato and Roy played “good cop/bad cop” to get him to give a false confession.
During his trial, Wallace’s motions to suppress his confession on the grounds that he was arrested without probable cause and that the confession was coerced were denied. He was found guilty of first-degree murder on April 19, 1996 and sent to prison.
On appeal in 1998, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that Wallace’s arrest was made without probable cause, and called for a hearing to determine if that finding would render his confession inadmissible. The trial court found that the confession was still legal, but after another appeal the Illinois Appellate Court threw out the confession.
Because the confession was essentially their only evidence, prosecutors dropped their case against Wallace on April 10, 2002. Wallace was released from prison after serving nearly eight years. [...] One mystery in this case that may never be solved is Wallace’s actual guilt or innocence for the murder he was accused of. Since the charges have been dropped and his confession was deemed inadmissible, there is no remaining legal proceeding to determine culpability. However, Wallace’s guilt or innocence has absolutely no bearing on the case, as it will decide only whether his 4th Amendment suit is time-barred or not.
So if the report in the first article is accurate, the Court may well want to say that you must start a lawsuit for false arrest before the legal system itself has determined that, yes, you have been falsely arrested. That is simply nonsensical on its face. It also seems rather odd that, if Wallace wins, he is likely to be able to collect only for those two days between arrest and arraignment, at which point the issue of false arrest becomes one of false imprisonment, for which the Chicago Police Department is technically not responsible. After all, if the police hadn't arrested him without probable cause, then he wouldn't have been arraigned in the first case.
It does seem, if the Court does rule that you have to bring a case for false arrest long before you could possibly prove the case, that it's likely to clog the system with a great many more false arrest cases, most of which will simply be tossed out. After all, if you're required to bring the case within two years of arrest, what choice do you have if you really were arrested without cause? And if you weren't, what do you have to lose by taking the shot? But it does seem, if you bring the case before the system provides you with the evidence, that the case is likely to simply get tossed out the first time, and that will make it more difficult to win at a later date.
The idea that the deadline will give the police officers -- those accused of violating the man's constitutional rights -- "peace of mind" is very strange, in this context. Why are they entitled to "peace of mind" for violating his rights? If it's proved that they knew what they were doing, why aren't they entitled to a few extra years of lack of peace of mind? Surely those who violate the public trust are less entitled to enjoy that peace of mind.Posted by iain at November 07, 2006 02:45 PM