7th Circuit reverses ruling on police excessive force

Michael W. Hoskins
April 16, 2010
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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has decided that a prisoner should have the chance to proceed on a federal claim of police using unreasonable force during and after his arrest for which he's been convicted at the state level.

A unanimous panel ruled today on Ty Evans v. Frank Poskon, et al., No. 09-3140, which comes from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. The appellate judges reversed and remanded a ruling from U.S. Judge David F. Hamilton, who'd ruled on the case last year before he was elevated to that appellate bench.

Evans was arrested in 2005 for attempted murder and resisting arrest, and was convicted and sentenced to 71 years in prison. But as a prisoner proceeding pro se, he filed a federal suit in May 2007 accusing police of violating his Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force during and after a police raid of his home. Judge Hamilton granted summary judgment for the defendants, finding that Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), barred the 42 U.S.C. §1983 claim because Evans' assertion that he didn't oppose being taken into custody contradicts his conviction. Unless the resisting-arrest conviction was set aside, Evans could have no valid §1983 claim, the judge ruled.

But analyzing that decision, the panel found that Judge Hamilton didn't address nor did any of the attorneys apply another case that had been handed down just months before Evans filed his federal claim. The nation's top court in February 2007 issued a decision in Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384 (2007), that held a claim that actually starts before a criminal conviction may and usually must be filed without regard to the conviction's validity. This would apply here so that Evans' claim about excessive force began before he was ultimately convicted and sentenced, the appellate court ruled.

Two of the three accusations Evans raises - that police used excessive force to arrest him and that they beat him severely even after taking custody of him - can proceed because they are compatible with his resisting-arrest conviction, Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote. The third, that he didn't resist being taken into custody, cannot proceed.

"Evans is entitled to an opportunity to prove that the defendants used unreasonable force during and after his arrest," the chief judge wrote.


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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.