U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
Civil Rights — unlawful seizure
Where a conviction is based on evidence unconnected to an allegedly unlawful seizure, the conviction does not bar a civil rights suit.
“Rollins pleaded guilty. There isn’t any doubt that he was guilty—that he’d been driving on a suspended or revoked license. If he can prove that the action of the police in forcing him to get back in his car and show them his driving papers was unconstitutional, that cannot change the fact that he was driving without a valid license. Illegal searches and seizures frequently turn up irrefutable evidence of guilt. The evidence can be suppressed if the government attempts to present it at trial, but there was no trial. A finding that the defendant was illegally seized—the finding he seeks in this suit—would therefore have no relevance to the validity of his guilty plea and ensuing conviction.”
Reversed and Remanded.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Zagel, J., Posner, J.