Grant & Eisenhofer attorneys, including director Kimberly Evans and noted civil rights attorney Joshua Dubin, of counsel at G&E, along with co-counsel David Rudolph, a renowned civil rights lawyer, successfully defeated a motion to dismiss in Aguirre-Jarquin v. Seminole County et al (USDC FL-MD 20-0025). The wrongful conviction and imprisonment lawsuit alleges a number of Section 1983 constitutional violations, as well as violations of state law.
The decision will allow G&E and its co-counsel to continue pursuing claims on behalf of the plaintiff, Clemente Aguirre-Jarquin, who was wrongfully convicted of a double murder he did not commit. As a result, he spent 14 years in prison with ten of those years on death row.
Mr. Aguirre’s lawsuit alleges that the murder investigation was woefully deficient and failed to meet constitutional standards. His alibi was never properly explored, evidence implicating other potential suspects was ignored, and blood samples taken from the murder scene were never tested—which, had they been, would have revealed the presence of blood from the victims’ daughter and granddaughter, a woman with a well-known history of violence and mental illness and who made numerous confessions to the double murders in the years that followed.
Most notable from the opinion, the judge held that the lawsuit’s Section 1983 failure to investigate claims were adequately pleaded and that the investigating officers were not entitled to qualified immunity. Quoting a previous court decision, Judge Dalton wrote, “When police officers ‘turn a blind eye to exculpatory information that is available to them, and instead support their actions on selected facts they chose to focus upon,’ they conduct a ‘constitutionally deficient’ investigation.” Acknowledging that there was not prior case law directly on point for purposes of qualified immunity, Judge Dalton stated that “[b]ecause it is clearly established that an investigation must meet minimal constitutional standards before it’s permissible to arrest someone, then failing to satisfy those same standards during an investigation that undermines the truth-seeking function of a trial violates the Constitution too.” Moreover, “[t]he Court need not wait for materially similar cases before declining to protect the type of intentional conduct Mr. Aguirre-Jarquin alleges caused his wrongful conviction-and fourteen years’ imprisonment-when the constitutional strictures prescribed for investigations and the right to a fair trial are clearly established. We need fewer wrongful convictions, not more.” Judge Dalton also held that the complaint adequately alleged a Section 1983 claim against the latent-print examiner for submitting a fabricated latent print report implicating Mr. Aguirre in the murders and that the Monell claims against Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma were sufficiently pleaded.
If you or a loved one has been wrongfully convicted, Grant & Eisenhofer can help investigate your claim and may be able to help you seek compensation for your damages. Call (855) 244-2031 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation.