United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Civil Rights — qualified immunity
A prosecutor who fabricates evidence against a defendant is not entitled to qualified immunity.
“We have consistently held that a police officer who manufactures false evidence against a criminal defendant violates due process if that evidence is later used to deprive the defendant of her liberty in some way. In Jones v. City of Chicago, we upheld a jury’s imposition of damages against a variety of defendants, including police officers and a crime lab technician, who ‘were determined to put away George Jones regardless of the evidence.’ 856 F.2d 985, 993 (7th Cir. 1988). We have since said that there ‘is no disputing that such conduct [fabricating evidence] violates clearly established constitutional rights.’ Dominguez v. Hendley, 545 F.3d 585, 589 (7th Cir. 2008). Indeed, in this very case, the police defendants admit that the allegations that they fabricated evidence—the same allegations as those against McFatridge—state a due process claim.”
“The only question is whether a prosecutor who is acting in an investigatory capacity is subject to rules that are any different. We think not. A prosecutor who manufactures evidence when acting in an investigatory role can cause a due process violation just as easily as a police officer. The fact that the prosecutor who introduces the evidence at trial cannot be liable for the act of introduction, whether it is the same prosecutor who fabricated the evidence or a different prosecutor, is beside the point. It would be ‘incongruous,’ Burns v. Reed, 500 U.S. 478, 495 (1991), to hold a police officer liable for fabricating evidence but hold that the prosecutor has not committed any violation for taking the same action in the same capacity.”
Appeals from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Baker, J., Wood, J.