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Civil Rights — right to remain silent

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit


Civil Rights — right to remain silent

Where the plaintiff’s conviction remains unreversed, summary judgment was properly granted to the officers on his claim that the officers violated his right to remain silent.

“We conclude, like the district court, that success on Matz’s Fifth Amendment claim would necessarily imply the invalidity of Matz’s sentence. At sentencing, the judge relied heavily on Matz’s confession as well as his subsequent decision to recant his admissions. Specifically, Matz explained to the judge that he confessed out of loyalty to his fellow Latin King codefendants in the hopes that he could take the fall and the rest of them ‘would be able to go home.’ The sentencing judge rejected the notion that Matz confessed because ‘it was the right thing to do,’ and opined instead that Matz thought he could be out in ‘five — ten years’ and emerge in his ‘rightful spot’ as the leader of the Latin Kings brotherhood because he had stepped up and taken responsibility for the ‘weaklings’ beneath him. The judge believed that when the reality of the prison sentence Matz was facing set in and it came to light that his fellow Latin Kings had inculpated him in the crime, he was scared and realized that it was not worth taking the fall for his confederates. The court accordingly concluded that Matz had only a ‘sort of a selfish, self-centered remorse’ and thus posed a high risk of reoffending. Matz’s confession and the sentencing judge’s assessment of the reasons behind it thus figured prominently in the court’s decision to sentence Matz consecutively on the two counts of conviction. Because that sentence remains intact, Matz cannot pursue a § 1983 claim for damages premised on his allegedly coerced confession because success on his claim would call into question his sentence. Heck thus bars Matz’s Fifth Amendment claim. See Davis v. Kan. Dep’t of Corr., 507 F.3d 1246, 1249 (10th Cir. 2007) (barring claim challenging sentencing calculation); cf. Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 751 (2004) (per curiam) (summarizing Heck bar as applicable to any § 1983 damages action that ‘would implicitly question the validity of conviction or duration of sentence’ that has not been previously invalidated) (emphasis added).”


12-1674 Matz v. Klotka

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Randa, J., Rovner, J.

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