Amy Anderson and Joshua Bell Obtain Summary Judgment for Police Officer in Civil Rights Action
Plaintiff filed suit in Federal Court alleging that his civil rights were violated at the time of his arrest for unlawful possession of a gun on August 13, 2009 by the defendant officers. Plaintiff received a trial on the charges of unlawful possession of a gun by a felon and being an armed habitual criminal. The court found him guilty after he waived the right to a jury. He was then sentenced and placed into the corrections system. As part of his trial, Plaintiff prepared and litigated a motion to suppress the evidence of the gun, arguing that it was found as the result of an unlawful search of his person. This motion was denied by the court. In response to plaintiff’s complaint, Ms. Anderson and Mr. Bell brought a motion for summary judgment arguing that the issues which acted as the basis for his civil rights lawsuit against the defendant officers were fully litigated by a court of competent jurisdiction, which acted as a bar to his suit pursuant to the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel. In granting the motion for summary judgment, the Court noted that Plaintiff had ample opportunities to litigate the issue of whether the gun was found as the result of an illegal search which violated his civil rights, the basis of his suit against the officers. Federal civil rights cases can be barred state criminal proceedings. Here, the state criminal proceedings heard the motion to suppress the evidence due to the alleged violations of Plaintiff’s civil rights, and denied the motion after 2 days of evidence and argument. Therefore, whether the defendant officers violated Plaintiff’s civil rights was ruled upon in the state court and the state court’s ruling acted to bar the federal lawsuit and preventing Plaintiff from re-litigating the civil rights issue.