McDonough v. Smith

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Rights § 1983
  • Date Filed: June 20, 2019
  • Case #: 18-485
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: SOTOMAYOR, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and GINSBURG, BREYER, ALITO, and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which KAGAN and GORSUCH, JJ., joined.
  • Full Text Opinion

The statute of limitations for a claim brought under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging the use of fabricated evidence, begins to run when criminal proceedings against a defendant are terminated in his or her favor.

Petitioner was criminally prosecuted for allegedly processing forged primary election ballots in Troy, New York. After aquittal, Petitioner sued Respondent under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging Respondent fabricated evidence to convict Petitioner of criminal charges and malicious prosecution. The district court dismissed both claims, holding the §1983 claims as untimely. The Second Circuit affirmed, holding that the statute of limitations began to run when Petitioner had knowledge of the fabricated evidence, and when he suffered a loss of liberty as a result. The Supreme Court begins with identifying which liberty was infringed upon, and agrees with Petitioner that the common law tort of malicious prosecution was the injury suffered. Analogizing Petitioner’s case to Heck v. Humphrey, with the aid of Wallace v. Kato, the Court finds that challenging fabricated evidence in a criminal proceeding prior to its termination would likely create parallel civil and criminal litigation over the same topic. To avoid accrual of such litigation, the statute of limitations must begin at the termination of the criminal proceeding. The holding is further supported by the desire to avoid issues in jurisdictions where prosecutions can last as long or longer than the relevant civil limitations period. REVERSED AND REMANDED.

Advanced Search

Back to Top