Savory v. Cannon, No. 17-3543

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtRovner, Circuit Judge.
Citation947 F.3d 409
Parties Johnnie Lee SAVORY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. William CANNON, Sr., as special representative for Charles Cannon, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 17-3543
Decision Date07 January 2020

947 F.3d 409

Johnnie Lee SAVORY, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
William CANNON, Sr., as special representative for Charles Cannon, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 17-3543

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

Argued September 24, 2019
Decided January 7, 2020


Steven Edwards Art, Attorney, Loevy & Loevy, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Lisa M. Meador, Attorney, Sara J. Schroeder, Attorney, James G. Sotos, Attorney, John J. Timbo, Attorney, Sotos Law Firm, P.C., Chicago, IL, for Defendants-Appellees

Before Wood, Chief Judge, and Easterbrook, Kanne, Rovner, Sykes, Hamilton, Barrett, Brennan, Scudder and St. Eve, Circuit Judges.*

Rovner, Circuit Judge.

Johnnie Lee Savory spent thirty years in prison for a 1977 double murder that he insists he did not commit. Even after his release from prison, he continued to assert his innocence. Thirty-eight years after his conviction, the governor of Illinois pardoned Savory. Within two years of the pardon, Savory filed a civil rights suit against the City of Peoria ("City") and a number of Peoria police officers alleging that they framed him. The district court found that the claims accrued more than five years before Savory filed suit, when he was released from custody and could no longer challenge his conviction in habeas corpus proceedings. Because the statute of limitations on his claims is two years, the district court dismissed the suit as untimely. Savory appealed to this court, and the panel reversed and remanded after concluding that the claim was timely under Heck v. Humphrey , 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994), because it accrued at the time of Savory’s pardon, within the two-year limitations period. We granted the defendants’ petition for rehearing en banc and vacated the panel’s opinion and judgment. We again conclude that Heck controls the outcome here, and we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

I.

In reviewing a grant of a motion to dismiss, we are required to assume that

947 F.3d 412

the facts alleged in the complaint are true, but we offer no opinion on the ultimate merits because further development of the record may cast the facts in a light different from the complaint. Dobbey v. Illinois Dep’t of Corr. , 574 F.3d 443, 444, 447 (7th Cir. 2009). See also Tobey v. Chibucos , 890 F.3d 634, 645 (7th Cir. 2018) (on a motion to dismiss, a court must accept as true the well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint). In January 1977, Peoria police officers arrested fourteen-year-old Savory for the rape and murder of nineteen-year-old Connie Cooper and the murder of her fourteen-year-old brother, James Robinson. According to the complaint, these officers subjected Savory to an abusive thirty-one hour interrogation over a two-day period. The officers fabricated evidence, wrongfully coerced a false confession from the teen, suppressed and destroyed evidence that would have exonerated him, fabricated incriminating statements from alleged witnesses, and ignored ample evidence pointing to other suspects. No legitimate evidence implicated Savory. His arrest, prosecution and conviction were based entirely on the officers’ fabricated evidence and illegally extracted false confession.

Savory was tried as an adult in 1977 and convicted of first degree murder. After that conviction was overturned on appeal, he was convicted again in 1981. He was sentenced to a term of forty to eighty years in prison. After Savory exhausted direct appeals and post-conviction remedies in state court, he unsuccessfully sought federal habeas corpus relief. He repeatedly petitioned for clemency and also sought DNA testing. After thirty years in prison, he was paroled in December 2006. Five years later, in December 2011, the governor of Illinois commuted the remainder of Savory’s sentence. That action terminated his parole (and therefore his custody) but left his conviction intact. On January 12, 2015, the governor pardoned Savory of the crime of murder,1 and declared that Savory was "acquitted and discharged of and from all further imprisonment and restored to all the rights of citizenship which may have been forfeited by the conviction." The pardon was granted with an "Order Permitting Expungement Under The Provisions Of 20 ILCS 2630/5.2(e)." R. 71-3. On January 11, 2017, less than two years after the pardon, Savory filed suit against the City and the police officers.

That suit asserted six claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, five against the individual defendants and one against the City. The five counts against the individual defendants alleged that they: (1) coerced a false confession from Savory in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments; (2) coerced a false confession from Savory in violation of his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment; (3) maliciously prosecuted Savory, depriving him of liberty without probable cause in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments;2 (4) deprived Savory of his right to

947 F.3d 413

a fair trial, his right not to be wrongfully convicted, and his right to be free of involuntary confinement and servitude in violation of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments; and (5) failed to intervene as their fellow officers violated Savory’s civil rights. In the sixth count, Savory alleged that the City’s unlawful policies, practices and customs led to his wrongful conviction and imprisonment in violation of section 1983. Savory also brought state law claims against the defendants but later conceded that those claims were untimely under the state’s one-year statute of limitations. Those claims are not part of this appeal.

The defendants moved to dismiss Savory’s section 1983 claims on several grounds, but the district court addressed only one: the statute of limitations. The court recognized that, under Heck v. Humphrey , 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994), Savory could not bring his section 1983 claims unless and until he obtained a favorable termination of a challenge to his conviction. The parties agreed that the relevant statute of limitations required Savory to bring his claims within two years of accrual, but the parties disagreed on when the Heck bar lifted. Savory asserted that his claims did not accrue until he received a pardon from the Illinois governor on January 12, 2015, rendering his January 11, 2017 suit timely. The defendants asserted that the Heck bar lifted when Savory’s parole was terminated on December 6, 2011, making his claims untimely. The district court concluded that the defendants had the better view of Heck and dismissed the claims with prejudice. Savory appeals.

II.

We review de novo a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal on statute of limitations grounds. Tobey , 890 F.3d at 645 ; Amin Ijbara Equity Corp. v. Village of Oak Lawn , 860 F.3d 489, 492 (7th Cir. 2017). For a section 1983 claim, federal courts look to state law for the length of the limitations period. McDonough v. Smith , ––– U.S. ––––, 139 S. Ct. 2149, 2155, 204 L.Ed.2d 506 (2019). See also Owens v. Okure , 488 U.S. 235, 249–50, 109 S.Ct. 573, 102 L.Ed.2d 594 (1989) ("where state law provides multiple statutes of limitations for personal injury actions, courts considering § 1983 claims should borrow the general or residual statute for personal injury actions"). In Illinois, the applicable limitations period is two years.

947 F.3d 414

Tobey , 890 F.3d at 645. However, the "accrual date of a § 1983 cause of action is a question of federal law that is not resolved by reference to state law." Wallace v. Kato , 549 U.S. 384, 388, 127 S.Ct. 1091, 166 L.Ed.2d 973 (2007) (emphasis in original). Instead, certain aspects of section 1983 claims, including accrual dates, are "governed by federal rules conforming in general to common-law tort principles." Id . Under those common-law tort principles, claims accrue when a plaintiff has a complete and present cause of action. Id . ; McDonough , 139 S. Ct. at 2155. So we must determine the first moment at which Savory had a complete and present cause of action.

A.

We begin our analysis of the accrual date for Savory’s claims with Heck , which addressed whether and when a state prisoner may challenge the constitutionality of his conviction in a suit for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Heck , 512 U.S. at 478, 114 S.Ct. 2364. While Heck was serving a fifteen-year sentence for manslaughter, he brought a section 1983 action against two prosecutors and a state police inspector asserting that they engaged in an unlawful investigation that led to his arrest, that they knowingly destroyed exculpatory evidence, and that they caused an unlawful voice identification procedure to be used at his trial. 512 U.S. at 478–79, 114 S.Ct. 2364.

The Court noted that such a case lies at the intersection of federal prisoner litigation under section 1983 and the federal habeas corpus statute. 512 U.S. at 480, 114 S.Ct. 2364. The Court had first considered the potential overlap between these two statutes in Preiser , and held then "that habeas corpus is the exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the fact or duration of his confinement and seeks immediate or speedier release, even though such a claim may come within the...

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174 practice notes
  • Horne v. Elec. Eel Mfg. Co., No. 19-2082
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • February 10, 2021
    ...to Horne's argument under Jewelers Mutual and Shorr Paper . Arguments not raised in the district court are waived. Savory v. Cannon , 947 F.3d 409, 430 (7th Cir. 2020) ; Milwaukee Ctr. for Independence, Inc. v. Milwaukee Health Care, LLC , 929 F.3d 489, 493–94 (7th Cir. 2019). Even on appea......
  • Hill v. Cook Cnty., Case No. 18-cv-08228
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • May 31, 2020
    ...ultimate merits because further development of the record may cast the facts in a light different from the complaint." Savory v. Cannon , 947 F.3d 409, 412 (7th Cir. 2020).On November 25, 2005, two armed men robbed Frank's Liquor Store in Robbins, Illinois. See Am. Cplt. ¶ 11 (Dckt. No. 50)......
  • Heidelberg v. Manias, Case No. 1:18-cv-01161-SLD-JEH
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. Central District of Illinois
    • November 30, 2020
    ...commuted, because prior to the pardon, his conviction was still intact and could not be challenged collaterally through a § 1983 action. 947 F.3d 409, 412, 417–18 (7th Cir. 2020).8 Applying Savory 's holding on the malicious prosecution claim to the wrongful detention claim at issue here,9 ......
  • Geske v. PNY Techs., Inc., Case No. 19-cv-05170
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • November 30, 2020
    ...ultimate merits because further development of the record may cast the facts in a light different from the complaint." Savory v. Cannon , 947 F.3d 409, 412 (7th Cir. 2020).Portable electronic devices, especially cell phones, are omnipresent in modern American life. See Am. Cplt., at ¶ 1 (Dc......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
177 cases
  • Horne v. Elec. Eel Mfg. Co., No. 19-2082
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • February 10, 2021
    ...to Horne's argument under Jewelers Mutual and Shorr Paper . Arguments not raised in the district court are waived. Savory v. Cannon , 947 F.3d 409, 430 (7th Cir. 2020) ; Milwaukee Ctr. for Independence, Inc. v. Milwaukee Health Care, LLC , 929 F.3d 489, 493–94 (7th Cir. 2019). Even on appea......
  • Hill v. Cook Cnty., Case No. 18-cv-08228
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • May 31, 2020
    ...ultimate merits because further development of the record may cast the facts in a light different from the complaint." Savory v. Cannon , 947 F.3d 409, 412 (7th Cir. 2020).On November 25, 2005, two armed men robbed Frank's Liquor Store in Robbins, Illinois. See Am. Cplt. ¶ 11 (Dckt. No. 50)......
  • Heidelberg v. Manias, Case No. 1:18-cv-01161-SLD-JEH
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. Central District of Illinois
    • November 30, 2020
    ...commuted, because prior to the pardon, his conviction was still intact and could not be challenged collaterally through a § 1983 action. 947 F.3d 409, 412, 417–18 (7th Cir. 2020).8 Applying Savory 's holding on the malicious prosecution claim to the wrongful detention claim at issue here,9 ......
  • Geske v. PNY Techs., Inc., Case No. 19-cv-05170
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • November 30, 2020
    ...ultimate merits because further development of the record may cast the facts in a light different from the complaint." Savory v. Cannon , 947 F.3d 409, 412 (7th Cir. 2020).Portable electronic devices, especially cell phones, are omnipresent in modern American life. See Am. Cplt., at ¶ 1 (Dc......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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