Harris v. Bornhorst, 06-3729.

Citation513 F.3d 503
Decision Date14 January 2008
Docket NumberNo. 06-3729.,06-3729.
PartiesAnthony HARRIS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Amanda Spies BORNHORST et al., Defendants-Appellees.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)

ARGUED: Daniel R. Warren, Baker & Hostetler, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellant. Kenneth C. Apicella, Ellison, Nielsen, Zehe & Antas, Chicago, Illinois, for Appellees. ON BRIEF: Daniel R. Warren, Stephan J. Schlegelmilch, Thomas D. Warren, Baker & Hostetler, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellant. Timothy R. Cleary, Robert G. Stiefvater III, Cleary & Associates, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellee.

Before: MOORE and GRIFFIN, Circuit Judges; McKINLEY, District Judge.*

MOORE, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which McKINLEY, D.J., joined. GRIFFIN, J. (pp. 523-27), delivered a separate opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.



Plaintiff-Appellant Anthony Harris ("Harris") filed suit against Defendants-Appellees Amanda Spies Bornhorst ("Spies")1 and Tuscarawas County, Ohio ("Tuscarawas") (collectively, the "defendants"),2 asserting claims under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and for malicious prosecution, defamation, and tortious interference with a prospective contract, pursuant to Ohio state law. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants on all of Harris's claims, and Harris now appeals. For the reasons set forth below, we VACATE the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants on Harris's § 1983 and Brady claims, REVERSE the grant of summary judgment as to Harris's First Amendment retaliation, defamation, and tortious interference claims, AFFIRM the grant of summary judgment as to all of Harris's other claims, and REMAND this case to the district court for further proceedings.


On the afternoon of June 27, 1998, Lori Duniver discovered that her five-year-old daughter, Devan, was missing from her home in New Philadelphia, Ohio. The following day, Devan's body was found in a wooded area near her home. She had been stabbed seven times in the neck.

Captain. Jeffrey Urban ("Urban") of the New Philadelphia Police Department led the investigation, into Devan's murder. Urban identified several "persons of interest" who might have killed Devan, including Devan's mother, Lori, who had recently called a suicide hotline to report that she was depressed and considering harming herself and her children; Lori's boyfriend, Jairnie Redmond, a drug addict and felon of whom Devan was afraid, who had previously kidnapped Devan for three days and beaten her with a belt, who may have been in the neighborhood of Devan's house at the time of her disappearance, who was later found in possession of an unexplained pack of children's playing cards, and whose alibi witness was later discovered to have given a false name and Social Security number to the police; Devan's father, Richard, a violent alcoholic who had recently complained about having to pay child support for Devan and who refused to help Lori search for Devan after Devan's disappearance, claiming to be too drunk to drive; Devan's brother, Dylan, who was described by several individuals as violent and who had recently stabbed a cat; and Harris, a twelve-year-old, African-Atnerican neighbor of the (Caucasian) Dunivan family.

Harris had no criminal record, but he had once pushed or struck3 Devan in the arm and threatened to kill her, and he was seen, soon after Devan's disappearance, near the wooded area where her body would later be found. On the day after Devan's disappearance, before her body was found, Harris approached Urban and another officer and volunteered the statement that Devan was a "rude, nasty little girl who would eat in front of him." Joint Appendix ("J.A.") at 487 (Urban Dep. at 253). Several days later, when questioned by Urban about his whereabouts at the time of Devan's disappearance, Harris gave conflicting answers.

On July 15, 1998, at Urban's request, Harris's mother, Cyndi Harris ("Cyndi") brought Harris to the police station for a voice-stress analysis ("VSA"), which Urban described as being similar to a polygraph, or lie-detector, test. The VSA was to be conducted by Millersburg, Ohio police chief Tom Vaughn ("Vaughn"). Upon Harris's arrival at the station, Vaughn took him into a room with a one-way mirror, while Urban and Cyndi sat in an adjacent room from which they could, through the mirror, see (but not hear) the conversation between Vaughn and Harris. Cyndi was told that Vaughn would conduct a pre-test interview to relax Harris and then perform the VSA.

Once inside the interview room, however, Vaughn informed Harris of his Miranda4 rights and then proceeded to interrogate him about the murder. Under Vaughn's persistent questioning, Harris confessed to having killed Devan, but many aspects of Harris's confession conflicted with the known facts of the murder. When asked to provide a written statement, Harris asked to speak with his mother and then immediately recanted his confession.

Upon learning that Harris had confessed, Urban telephoned Spies, the Tuscarawas County Chief Prosecutor, who came to the station and listened to the tape of Vaughn's interrogation and Harris's confession. At Spies's direction, Urban then arrested Harris and transported him to a detention facility.

Harris was subsequently tried in a juvenile court and convicted of the murder of Devan Duniver. On March 17, 1999, he was sentenced to a term of incarceration to last until his twenty-first birthday. On June 7, 2000, however, the Ohio Court of Appeals reversed his conviction, on the ground that the juvenile court had improperly denied a motion to suppress his confession, which was coerced in violation of his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. In re Harris, No.1999AP030013, 2000 WL 748087 (Oh. Ct.App. June 7, 2000).

On June 8, 2000, Harris was released from prison. Spies held a press conference that day, at which she stated, "[F]rankly, in my heart and in my gut, I feel that Anthony Harris is responsible for the murder of Devan Duniver." J.A. at 725 (Spies Dep. at 42-45). No further charges were ever filed against Harris, and no one has since been arrested for or convicted of Devan's murder.

Harris filed the instant suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in August 2003. The following year, he applied to enlist in the Marine Corps. During the application process, he disclosed to Marine Corps Master Sergeant Mark Baker ("Baker") that he had been convicted of and incarcerated for murder and that the conviction had later been reversed. Harris signed a release permitting the Marine Corps to access the police and court records pertaining to his criminal case. Baker then instructed Marine Corps Staff Sergeant William Brahen ("Brahen") to go to the New Philadelphia courthouse and retrieve those records.

When Brahen arrived in Spies's office and requested the documents, Spies reacted by saying, in a hostile tone of voice, "[A]re you fucking kidding me?" J.A. at 1372-73 (Brahen Dep. at 25-26). She asked Brahen to accompany her to a conference room, where she "proceeded to tell [him] a little bit about the case and what happened." J.A. at 1373 (Brahen Dep. at 26). She asked Brahen whether "the Marine Corps would actually take Anthony Harris into the Marines." Id. (Brahen Dep. at 28). Brahen became uncomfortable and asked Spies to speak with Baker on the telephone. Spies agreed and proceeded to inform Baker that Harris would always be a suspect in the murder of Devan Duniver because there were no other suspects. She also mentioned that Harris had filed the instant civil suit against her. The Marine Corps subsequently declined to allow Harris to enlist, citing his continuing status as a suspect in the murder and the fact that his conviction had been reversed on a technicality.

In his Amended Complaint, Harris asserts claims for Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment violations and First Amendment retaliation, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983; a conspiracy to interfere with his civil rights, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1985; and Ohio state-law claims for aiding and abetting, malicious prosecution, defamation, and tortious interference with a prospective business relationship. After Harris settled his claims against all of the other defendants, Spies and Tuscarawas moved for summary judgment on all of his claims against them. On May 16, 2006, the district court granted the motion, dismissing with prejudice all of Harris's claims. Harris now appeals.


The district court possessed jurisdiction over Harris's federal claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and supplemental jurisdiction over Harris's state claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). We have jurisdiction over Harris's appeal from the district court's final judgment pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

A. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED.R.CIV.P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The moving party bears the burden of showing the absence of any genuine issues of material fact. Plant v. Morton Int'l, Inc., 212 F.3d 929, 934 (6th Cir.2000). Once the movant has satisfied its burden, the nonmoving party must produce evidence showing that a genuine issue remains. Id.

The court must credit all evidence presented by the nonmoving party and draw all justifiable inferences in that party's favor. Id. The nonmovant must, however, "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v....

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