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Dennis v. City of Philadelphia

3rd Circuit

November 23, 2021

The Third Circuit affirmed the District Court’s denial of a motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s Section 1983 claims. Defendant-appellants are police detectives who investigated Plaintiff for charges relating to the murder of a high-school student, a crime for which a jury convicted Plaintiff. In 2013, the District Court granted Plaintiff’s habeas petition and vacated his murder conviction. Thereafter, Plaintiff brought the present action, asserting Section 1983 claims against Defendants and alleging the violation of his constitutional rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint and argued that they were entitled to qualified immunity. The District Court denied the motion. Defendants appealed, and the Third Circuit affirmed. Defendants argued: 1.) Plaintiff failed to allege a constitutional violation because he does not assert a Fourth Amendment claim; and 2.) qualified immunity attached because the constitutional claims asserted did not involve rights that were clearly established in 1992, when the alleged violations took place. First, the Third Circuit ruled that Defendants waived their argument that Plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege a constitutional violation. Defendants did not raise the issue before the District Court. Second, qualified immunity did not attach because “the violation of due process by evidence fabrication and by deliberate deception as alleged was clearly established in 1992”.

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