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Wrongfully convicted man can pursue IIED claim

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A man wrongfully convicted of attempted murder can go forward with his intentional infliction of emotional distress claim against the City of Elkhart and several police officers, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today.

After serving eight years of a 30-year sentence for attempted murder, the charge against Christopher Parish was dropped and he was freed from prison in 2006. Evidence came out that the shooting didn’t happen where originally stated and police coerced several witnesses into identifying Parish as the shooter. At his trial, Parish introduced evidence he was out-of-state at the time of the shooting.

Parish and family members sued Elkhart and three former city police officers. The only claim at issue in Christopher Parish, et al. v. City of Elkhart, et al., No. 09-2056, is Parish’s state claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. The 7th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of his state false arrest and false imprisonment claims due to being time-barred based on Parish’s concession at oral argument.

The issue on appeal is whether the IIED claim is time-barred; the District Court ruled that it was, and dismissed the claim. The state claims must be brought within two years of the date on which the action accrued. He filed his suit within two years of his exoneration.

The Circuit Court used four cases to guide its decision to reverse the dismissal of Parish’s IIED claim: Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384 (2007), Scruggs v. Allen County/City of Fort Wayne, 829 N.E.2d 1049 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005), and Johnson v. Blackwell, 885 N.E.2d 25 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008).

“If the claims would not directly implicate the validity of the conviction, the court should follow the standard discovery rule applied in Indiana: The claim accrues at the time the individual knew or should have known of the tort,” wrote Judge Joel Flaum. “If the claim would directly implicate the validity of the conviction, then Heck and Scruggs come into play and the claim does not accrue until the conviction has been disposed of in a manner favorable to the plaintiff.”

In Parish’s case, it’s clear that this claim wasn’t completed prior to the conviction based on the actions of the officers. They took steps through all stages of the investigation and trial that cumulatively amounted to the tort of IIED, the judge wrote. And, the conviction was an essential piece of the tort because it was the wrongful conviction that led to the emotional strain and mental anguish Parish faced.

Under Indiana’s adoption of Heck, Parish couldn’t have brought this claim until his conviction was disposed of in a manner favorable to him, and he did so within the statute of limitations, the court ruled.

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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