False Accusation, False Confession, False Arrest

In Stoot v. City of Everett, No. 07-35425 (9th Cir. Sep 18, 2009) (here), a four-year old claimed that, when she was three, she had been sexually abused by a 14-year old.  The police officer who took the child's complaint, "interviewed [the child]. outside the presence of her mother or anyone else. He did not videotape or audio-record the interview.  He did take notes, but threw them out shortly after preparinghis police report."  So much for a search for truth.

After police interrogated a teenage boy for several hours, they were able to coerce a false confession.  The boy was indicted for raping a child.

The trial court dismissed the criminal charges, after concluding that the child was not competent to testify; and that the boy's confession had been coerced.  The boy's family sued.  A unanimous three-judge panel held:

We conclude that the Stoots have alleged viable claims under both the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, as Jensen seized Paul without probable cause and then allegedly coerced incriminating statements that were later used against Paul in a criminal proceeding. We nonetheless affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to defendants on the Fourth Amendment claim on the basis of qualified immunity,as the pertinent law was not clearly established at the time of the violations. The Fifth Amendment claim, however, may proceed in district court, as the aspects of the pertinent law not clearly established at the time of the confession did not affect Jensen’s role in bringing about the violation. Finally, we affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to defendants on the Stoots’ remaining claims, as Jensen’s con duct did not rise to the level of a substantive due process violation or a state law claim for outrage and the Stoots have failed to provide evidence supporting municipal liability.

1 comments:

  dcanon

8:39 PM

Disgraceful.