749 F.3d 755 (9th Cir. 2014), 09-55763, Jackson v. Barnes

Docket Nº:09-55763
Citation:749 F.3d 755
Opinion Judge:REINHARDT, Circuit Judge
Party Name:FREDERICK LEE JACKSON, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. MICHAEL BARNES; VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT; VENTURA COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE; PATRICIA M. MURPHY, Defendants-Appellees
Attorney:Todd E. Lundell (argued) and Richard A. Derevan, Snell & Wilmer, Costa Mesa, California, for Plaintiff-Appellant. Jeffrey Held (argued) and Alan E. Wisotsky, Wisotsky, Procter & Shyer, Oxnard, California, for Defendants-Appellees.
Judge Panel:Before: William C. Canby, Jr., Stephen Reinhardt, and Kim McLane Wardlaw, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:April 15, 2014
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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749 F.3d 755 (9th Cir. 2014)

FREDERICK LEE JACKSON, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

MICHAEL BARNES; VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT; VENTURA COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE; PATRICIA M. MURPHY, Defendants-Appellees

No. 09-55763

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

April 15, 2014

Argued and Submitted, Pasadena, California January 8, 2013

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California. D.C. No. 2:04-cv-08017-RSWL-RZ. Ronald S.W. Lew, Senior District Judge, Presiding.

Todd E. Lundell (argued) and Richard A. Derevan, Snell & Wilmer, Costa Mesa, California, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Jeffrey Held (argued) and Alan E. Wisotsky, Wisotsky, Procter & Shyer, Oxnard, California, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before: William C. Canby, Jr., Stephen Reinhardt, and Kim McLane Wardlaw, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

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REINHARDT, Circuit Judge

This is an unusual case in which the plaintiff is suing under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for damages as a result of his conviction for first degree murder in violation of his Fifth Amendment rights. The case is unusual in that the plaintiff was convicted at his first trial in which the prosecution relied on evidence obtained in violation of his Miranda rights, and after the conviction was reversed he was again convicted, this time without the use of the illegally obtained evidence. The plaintiff then sued for the violation of his Miranda rights at the first trial. As a result of unusual circumstances, the plaintiff, even if successful, will in all likelihood recover only minimal damages. Nonetheless, we conclude that this is one of those cases in which a plaintiff who has been lawfully convicted is not barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994), from bringing a § 1983 suit. We also consider which individuals and entities are proper defendants in this action, including whether we must follow our prior decision in Brewster v. Shasta County, 275 F.3d 803 (9th Cir. 2001), that a California sheriff is a county actor when investigating crimes.

I.

In 1995, Frederick Lee Jackson was convicted in Ventura County Superior Court of rape and first degree murder. At trial, the jurors heard a taped interview conducted by Sergeant Michael Barnes of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department. Barnes had interviewed Jackson while Jackson was in police custody, and without giving Jackson the requisite Miranda

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warnings. In the interview, Jackson admitted to Barnes that he " just happened to be there," i.e., at the scene of the murder. This statement contradicted Jackson's earlier statement that he was not at the scene of the murder but rather with his girlfriend--a statement the jurors also heard. See generally Jackson v. Giurbino, 364 F.3d 1002, 1005, 1007-12 (9th Cir. 2004).

On habeas review in 2004, we vacated Jackson's conviction for first degree murder.1 Deeming the question " refreshingly simple," we held that Jackson's rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), were violated when Barnes interrogated him while he was in custody without giving him the requisite Miranda warnings. As a result, Jackson's inculpatory statement during this interrogation that he " just happened to be" at the scene of the murder was held inadmissible. Jackson, 364 F.3d at 1008-10. We further held that the trial court's constitutional error in admitting Jackson's statement was not harmless, and vacated Jackson's conviction for murder. Id. at 1011-12.

In 2005, the state retried Jackson. The retrial was completely insulated from the illegal testimony; the jurors did not learn of Jackson's statement to Barnes that he " just happened to be" at the scene of the crime. At the second trial, the jury, without hearing the illegally obtained evidence, convicted Jackson once again on the first degree murder charge, and Jackson was sentenced to 26 years' imprisonment.

Before the second trial, but after Jackson's initial conviction had been vacated, Jackson, proceeding pro se, filed the complaint that is the subject of this appeal. He brings three claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, all related to the Miranda violation that resulted in our vacating his first conviction. First, he contends that Barnes's un- Mirandized interrogation violated his Fifth Amendment rights because his resulting inculpatory statements were used against him at trial. Second, he claims that the Ventura County Sheriff's Department violated his Fifth Amendment rights by failing to supervise Barnes. Third, he asserts that Ventura County District Attorney Patricia M. Murphy and the Ventura County District Attorney's Office engaged in various illegal acts in prosecuting him. Jackson seeks millions of dollars in damages for these offenses. The district court granted summary judgment to Barnes, granted judgment on the pleadings to the remaining defendants, and dismissed the suit with prejudice. Jackson appeals the district court's dismissal of all three of his claims. We reverse.

II.

Jackson first contends that the district court erred when it awarded defendants summary judgment on his claim that Barnes violated his Fifth Amendment rights by eliciting un- Mirandized inculpatory testimony that was used against him at trial. The district court rejected this claim on the ground that it was barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994). Defendants argue that, in addition to Heck, the claim is time-barred, and that, even if Jackson were to succeed on the claim, he would not be entitled to any damages. We hold that the grant of summary judgment was erroneous.

A.

In Heck v. Humphrey, the United States Supreme Court held that:

[I]n order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment,

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or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. . . . A claim for damages bearing that relationship to a conviction or sentence that has not been so invalidated is not cognizable under § 1983.

512 U.S. at 486-87 (footnote omitted).2 The Court also stated in Heck, however, that " if the district court determines that the plaintiff's action, even if successful, will not demonstrate the invalidity of any outstanding criminal judgment against the plaintiff, the action should be allowed to proceed, in the absence of some other bar to the suit." Id. at 487.

Subsequently, we held that under certain circumstances a plaintiff's § 1983 claim is not Heck -barred despite the existence of an outstanding criminal conviction against him. For example, in Ove v. Gwinn, 264 F.3d 817 (9th Cir. 2001), we held that plaintiffs who had been convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol could challenge the way in which their blood had been drawn when they were arrested because their convictions were in no way the result of any blood evidence. The plaintiffs had pled nolo contendre, but since the " convictions derive[d] from their pleas, not from verdicts obtained with supposedly illegal evidence [, t]he validity of their convictions does not in any way depend upon the legality of the blood draws." 264 F.3d at 823; see also Lockett v. Ericson, 656 F.3d 892, 896-97 (9th Cir. 2011) (holding that a plaintiff who pled nolo contendre to reckless driving was not Heck -barred from bringing a § 1983 claim based on an alleged unlawful search because the outcome of the claim had no bearing on the validity of the plaintiff's plea); Smith v. City of Hemet, 394 F.3d 689, 693 (9th Cir. 2005) (en banc) (holding that a plaintiff convicted of resisting arrest could bring a § 1983 action for excessive use of force if the excessive force was employed against him after he had engaged in the conduct that constituted the basis for his conviction, because in such a case success on his § 1983 action would not imply the invalidity of the conviction).

This, too, is a case in which a guilty plaintiff's claim is not barred by Heck . In this case it is Jackson's second conviction for first degree murder that is outstanding. It is undisputed that the second conviction was insulated from the inculpatory statements that are the subject of Jackson's § 1983 suit against Barnes. The first conviction is the case in which the Fifth Amendment violation occurred. Therefore a judgment in Jackson's favor would--far from " necessarily imply[ing]" the invalidity of his second conviction--not have any bearing on it. The only conviction a judgment in Jackson's favor would bear on is his first conviction, which was " called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas...

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