Another Albright v. Oliver Fiasco In The SCOTUS? (Updated)

Petition of the day over at the SCOTUS blog – Hartley v. Sanchez. Read it and weep.

Police obtain a rape confession from a mentally challenged 18 year old (Sanchez) and use it to arrest and prosecute him.  Apparently he is held in custody for about three years until the charges are finally dropped.

The Petition for Certiorari cites Albright (all over the place), notes the confusion in the circuits (Duh.  They should cite this blog.) and concentrates on the 4th amendment, though not quite so emphatically as the Manuel case (the case the SCOTUS has already taken up).  It doesn’t cite the Mooney line of SCOTUS cases, but cites some circuit court opinions that do.  It does not appear to mention the phrase “due process” at all; but it is of interest that it discusses Franks v. Delaware at some length:  is Franks a 4th amendment case or a due process case?  We are all over this issue and even we are not sure.

In any event, this case would appear to add little but confusion which, when you go up to the SCOTUS, is especially counter-productive.

It is worth noting, however, that the posture in which this case is presented is the denial of “qualified immunity” to the officers involved.  In other words, the government is the appellant.  That makes a cert grant more likely because governments are favored litigants.

Nevertheless, the case really adds nothing to what the SCOTUS is already doing in the Manuel case except more confusion.  Although the confusion is likely to be better briefed.

We hope this one isn’t granted.  We have a much better idea, but at this stage it is no more than that, unfortunately.


Update:  The Hartley Petition doesn’t cite Cole v. Carson.  We hope that is not a deliberate omission, because that would be a big no-no.


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3 responses to “Another Albright v. Oliver Fiasco In The SCOTUS? (Updated)

  1. Chris Halkides

    This from The Denver Post may be tangential to your point, but it is enlightening with respect to false confessions: “During interrogations over the span of 17 hours, Sanchez confessed to the backyard trespass and a number of other break-ins in the area, including the July 10, 2009, sexual assault on the girl…Sanchez didn’t match the victim’s description of the assailant; male DNA found on her underwear wasn’t his; and the litany of other break-ins he confessed to eventually were pinned on other people.” From Denver’s ABC station: “At the time, Tyler was a skinny, 19-year-old redhead, but the victim described her attacker as a 200-pound, brown-haired man in his 40s.” How this case could drag on as long as it did is mystifying in some ways, but there are plenty of precedents.


    • Ultimately the District Attorney made the decision. In their minds it’s often a tough one to make, primarily for political and institutional reasons.

      The trouble with this case has more to do with the basis on which it is urging the SCOTUS to expound upon a constitutional “malicious prosecution” cause of action and reconsider the Albright case. It is an extremely confused area of constitutional law, and if the SCOTUS sticks with the 4th amendment analysis it will probably remain so.


    • BTW nice to see you over here reading, Chris.


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