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. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.