In Manuel v. Joliet, published March 21, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Seventh Circuit's decision affirming district court dismissal of a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 lawsuit brought by an arrestee held in jail 48 days before release. During a traffic stop of the plaintiff, the police found pills that twice tested negative for being illegal drugs. Yet, the plaintiff's lawsuit alleged, the officers arrested the plaintiff without any evidence that he committed a crime; and a technician allegedly lied that the pills contained ecstasy. The plaintiff was brought before a criminal judge, who concluded--allegedly based only on the false report--that probable cause existed to send the plaintiff to jail to await trial. While he was in jail, another test of the pills was negative for illegal drugs. Plaintiff remained in jail for over a month after that test, until he was freed on motion of the prosecution. The Seventh Circuit held that once the judge ordered the plaintiff to jail, he was held pursuant to legal process, and he could not state a claim for being held in violation of the Fourth Amendment Searches and Seizures clause. Instead, he could claim only denial of due process, and he had sufficient due process.
The Supreme Court held, 6-2, that when an arrestee is imprisoned based on legal process, but that process is based only on false evidence, the arrestee has a claim that the post-process, pre-trial imprisonment violated the arrestee's Fourth Amendment rights. The Court remanded the issue of when the cause of action accrues.