The Supreme Court refused yesterday to allow a Chicago man wrongly imprisoned for more than eight years to sue the police officers who arrested him. The court said that Andre Wallace, whose murder conviction was overturned in 2002, waited several years too long to file a false arrest lawsuit, reports the Associated Press. He had two years to file his civil rights lawsuit. The issue was when the two-year clock began to run.
Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for a 7-2 majority, said the correct starting point is when a judge reviews the criminal charges against a defendant and bounds him over for trial. In Wallace’s case, this hearing occurred in 1994, shortly after his arrest. Dissenting Justice Stephen Breyer said it would make more sense to hold off on filing false arrest claims until criminal convictions are ified because of problems with the arrest, confession, or gathering of other evidence. The decision probably will result in a flood of false arrest suits, “no matter how meritless the claim,” because criminal defendants won’t risk missing the deadline, Breyer said. Kenneth Flaxman, Wallace’s lawyer, said the ruling will create an “administrative nightmare” for the lower courts.