Yousefian v. City of Glendale

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Rights § 1983
  • Date Filed: 03-05-2015
  • Case #: 12-57269
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Reinhardt for the Court; Circuit Judge Gould and Senior District Judge Gettleman
  • Full Text Opinion

A police officer's romantic relationship with a suspect's wife, after evidence has already been collected and documented in official reports, does not undermine the existence of probable cause to arrest the suspect; and, when a § 1983 claim for false arrest and malicious prosecution fails against individual police officers, claims of municipal liability will also fail.

Robert Yousefian was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon after striking his elderly father-in-law in the head with a glass candlestick holder. Following Yousefian's arrest and filing of reports by three officers at the scene, Officer Lizarraga met Yousefian's wife, Nora, who accused Yousefian of drug possession. She later surrendered drugs she purported to have found in Yousefian's vehicle. After the drugs were booked into evidence, Officer Lizarraga and Nora started a sexual relationship, which lasted about a year. Officer Lizarraga had no involvement with Yousefian's case after his arrest, and the case was turned over to the District Attorney for prosecution. Officer Lizarraga did not notify his supervisors or the prosecutor of his relationship. Yousefian filed claims of false arrest and malicious prosecution against the officer, the prosecutor, and the city of Glendale under municipal liability. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant officers and the city. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that summary judgment was appropriate because probable cause was established by the evidence collected and documented at the time of Yousefian's arrest, for assault with a deadly weapon, and the officer's misconduct did not undermine the existence of the probable cause for the arrest. The panel also held that when a claim fails against the individual officers, the municipal liability claim will also fail, making summary judgment appropriate for the city of Glendale. AFFIRMED.

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