Haring, et. al v. Prosise
Decided on June 13, 1983; 462 US 306


Man admits guilt to manufacturing drugs, but sues police department for searching his residence without a warrant

I. ISSUES II. CASE SUMMARY III. AMICI CURIAE IV. DECISION V. WIN OR LOSS?
I. ISSUES:

A. Issues Discussed: Criminal Justice (drugs), 4th Amendment

B. Legal Question Presented:

Is the respondent's action under Section 42 U.S.C. 1983, to redress an alleged Fourth Amendment violation, barred by the judgment of conviction entered in state court following his guilty plea?

II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

Respondent Prosise pleaded guilty in The Circuit Court for Arlington County, Virginia to charges of manufacturing a controlled substance. He was subsequently convicted of the charges and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

While under confinement, respondent brought an action for damages under Section 42 U.S.C. 1983 in the Federal District Court against petitioners, Lt. Gilbert A. Haring and various police officers of the Arlington County Police Department, alleging that his Fourth Amendment rights had been violated during their search of his residence. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of petitioners on the ground that respondent's guilty plea to the criminal charge barred his 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim.

On appeal the Court of Appeals ruled in favor or the respondent by reversing in part and remanding the case for further proceedings. The police department appealed the judgment and the US Supreme Court accepted the petitioners’ writ of certiorari to review the case.
B. Counsel of Record:
ACLU Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Opposing Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Norman A. Townsend argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Sebastian K. D. Graber and Bradley S. Stetler.
David R. Lasso argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the briefs was Charles G. Flinn.
C. The Arguments:
ACLU Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Opposing Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Unavailable Unavailable
III. AMICI CURIAE:
ACLU Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Opposing Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed by Charles S. Sims and Burt Neuborne for the American Civil Liberties Union and by Stephen A. Saltzburg for the University of Virginia School of Law Post-Conviction Assistance Project.
Fred E. Inbau, Wayne W. Schmidt, James P. Manak, Evelle J. Younger, Daniel B. Hales and David Crump filed a brief for Americans for Effective Law Enforcement, Inc., et al. as amici curiae urging reversal.
IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"Under our past decisions, as the District Court correctly recognized, a guilty plea results in the defendant's loss of any meaningful opportunity he might otherwise have had to challenge the admissibility of evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment. It does not follow, however, that a guilty plea is a 'waiver' of antecedent Fourth Amendment claims that may be given effect outside the confines of the criminal proceeding. The defendant's rights under the Fourth Amendment are not among the trial rights that he necessarily waives when he knowingly and voluntarily pleads guilty…

Defendants who have pleaded guilty and who wish to bring a 1983 claim would be forced to bring that claim in state court, if at all. Not only have petitioners failed to advance any compelling justification for a rule confining the litigation of constitutional claims to a state forum, but such a rule would be wholly contrary to one of the central concerns which motivated the enactment of 1983, namely, the 'grave congressional concern that the state courts had been deficient in protecting federal rights.'

We conclude that respondent's conviction in state court does not preclude him from now seeking to recover damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for an alleged Fourth Amendment violation that was never considered in the state proceedings. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed."
Justice Vote: 9 Pro vs. 0 Con

  • Marshall T. Pro (Wrote majority opinion)
  • Burger, W. Pro (Joined majority opinon)
  • Brennan, W. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • White, B. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Powell, L. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Rehnquist, W. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • O’Connor, S. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Stevens, J. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Blackmun, H. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

The ACLU filed as amicus urging affirmance; the US Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals judgment in a 9-0 vote giving the ACLU an apparent win.