In a new Supreme Court ruling, criminal defendants will have additional time to file claims against police or prosecutors who fabricate evidence in their trials.
The case, McDonough v. Smith, addresses claims of former Democratic Commissioner of the Rensselaer County Board of Elections Edward McDonough, who was acquitted in New York state court of forging absentee ballots in a local primary election. McDonough sued the prosecutor investigating the voting fraud, Youel Smith, claiming he fabricated evidence to charge and (unsuccessfully try) McDonough.
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s conclusion that McDonough’s due process claim was untimely and barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that the statute of limitations claim only began to run once the criminal proceedings against him terminated in his favor—that is, when he was acquitted at the end of his second trial.
“It’s not uncommon that there are claims of withholding of evidence or fabrication of evidence,” said G&E attorney Karyn Bass Ehler and former chief of the Illinois Attorney General’s civil rights bureau. Karyn further explained that “the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonough is a win for civil rights plaintiffs. The Court recognized that if the statute of limitations begins to run on these claims while the criminal case is still pending, it gives the defendants an impossible choice: file their civil rights lawsuit now, and risk angering the prosecutor, or let the statute of limitations lapse on their Section 1983 civil rights claim. This decision evens the playing field for civil rights plaintiffs and releases them from having to make that impossible choice.”
If you believe your civil rights have been violated by fabricated evidence used against you in the court of law, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the parties responsible. Call (855) 244-2031 for a confidential evaluation of your potential claim.