Most civil rights claims against police officers in Massachusetts are made by former criminal defendants  who, for one reason or another, were not found guilty of the criminal charges brought against them. Going forward, those plaintiffs will have one less claim that they can make against police officers involved in their arrest or prosecution.

RJA represented a Sergeant with the Springfield Police Department in connection with a federal civil rights claim made by a former criminal defendant who had been found not guilty of the charges brought against him by the District Attorney’s Office. Included among those claims was an allegation that the Sergeant was liable civilly because a piece of evidence, which the plaintiff claimed was exculpatory and would have been helpful in his defense, was not turned over during the criminal prosecution.

After the filing of a motion to dismiss by RJA, a federal judge in Springfield agreed with the arguments made and concluded that, as a matter of federal constitutional law, a civil rights plaintiff is not able to make a claim that he or she was wronged by a failure to turn over evidence if the plaintiff was not convicted criminally.

This authority, the first time that a federal court in Massachusetts has issued such a determination, now can be used to benefit police officers in future lawsuits and effectively has eliminated an entire category of claims that can be brought against law enforcement officials.

RJA Counsel: Andrew J. Gambaccini and John Vigliotti

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