Cleary Files Amicus Brief in Support of Section 1983 Plaintiff Seeking to Remove Barrier to Lawsuits for Malicious Prosecution

June 11, 2021

Cleary Gottlieb filed an amicus brief on June 11, 2021, on behalf of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) in the matter of Larry Thompson v. Pagiel Clark.

The petitioner, Larry Thompson, is seeking to file a lawsuit against police officers who arrested him and, he argues, deliberately gave false information to a prosecutor regarding the circumstances of his arrest, which led the prosecutor to file criminal charges. The prosecutor later dropped the charges against him, but his suit was dismissed in federal court because the prosecutor had not given a specific reason why the charges were being dropped. In the absence of “affirmative indications” that the prosecutor’s office dropped the charges because it believed Thompson was innocent, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that Thompson’s malicious prosecution suit must be dismissed. This splits with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which holds that such lawsuits may proceed if the earlier criminal charges ended in such a way as to be not inconsistent with the plaintiff’s innocence.

LEAP is an organization with extensive expertise in the area of law enforcement. Made up of current and former law enforcement professionals, it advocates for criminal justice and drug policy reforms, and is particularly concerned with public trust.

The brief provides the court with a law enforcement perspective that arbitrary barriers to civil claims such as the Second Circuit’s requirement in this case are unhelpful to effective police work. Where such a rule forecloses meritorious claims against officers who have planted or falsified evidence, this increases frustration and thus can be detrimental to public trust. It thus argues that, in light of these facts, the Second Circuit’s rule is unhelpful.

A decision in this matter is expected later in 2021 or 2022. To view the amicus brief, click here.