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New Developments in Civil Rights Law: Personal Injury Firm Wins Historical U.S. Supreme Court Case for Wrongfully Arrested Brooklyn Man

A personal injury law firm based in New York, Shulman & Hill recently won their first-ever U.S. Supreme Court case on behalf of a Brooklyn man who was wrongfully arrested and maliciously prosecuted by the NYPD.

Shulman & Hill represented postal worker Larry Thompson in a case alleging that the NYPD subjected him to a wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution before finally dropping his criminal charges. His attorneys were responsible for proving that Thompson’s criminal case ended in his favor and winning him the right to sue the NYPD for maliciously prosecuting him.

Role of the Fourth Amendment in Thompson v. Clark, et al.

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects us from unreasonable search and seizure, and the NYPD was in violation of this right when they forcefully entered Thompson’s home without a warrant. When Thompson tried to prevent law enforcement from entering, the NYPD forcefully entered anyway, arrested and detained him for two days, and subsequently charged him with resisting arrest.

Thompson’s sister-in-law, who suffers from mental illness, was the one who called the police to the premises, claiming that he was sexually abusing his newborn daughter. After medical professionals found no signs of sexual abuse on the infant, Thompson was released from jail. His charges were dropped shortly thereafter.

Police are responsible for retrieving warrants from judges who agree that there is probable cause to enter a home. These checks and balances allow law enforcement to do their job while protecting the rights of individuals. Without this step, the NYPD circumvented the justice system and sacrificed an innocent man’s Constitutional rights.

What Difference Did Shulman & Hill Make?

The success of Thompson’s case depended on Shulman & Hill’s ability to prove that his criminal prosecution ended favorably for him. However, previous case law was established in Lanning v. Glens Falls, 908 F. 3d 19, 22. set a precedent in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that a favorable outcome must include an “affirmative indication of innocence.” Because the NYPD did not give a reason for terminating their criminal prosecution of Thompson, it was impossible to verify whether this outcome affirmed his innocence.

Shulman & Hill instead emphasized the NYPD’s aforementioned lack of probable cause to set a new precedent: a lack of conviction alone qualifies as a favorable outcome to the accused party when the charges are brought without probable cause. Specifically, malicious prosecution is now understood as the wrongful initiation of charges without probable cause and does not require proof of affirmed innocence, which could make many more people eligible to file civil claims against police and prosecutors.

What Does This Mean for the Future of Civil Rights Cases?

While New York City’s claims report indicates an overall downward trend for the number of civil rights cases being filed against and settled by the NYPD from year to year, it is still worth noting that the NYPD has paid out over $1 billion in civil rights case settlements in the past five years.

Despite so many civil rights cases being filed against the NYPD every year, the U.S. Supreme Court hadn’t agreed to hear a case against the Ney York Police Department in over 40 years before this one. Regardless of whether the Supreme Court will hear another case involving the NYPD, Thompson v. Clark, et al. opens the door for many individuals who were maliciously prosecuted by the NYPD and police organizations in other cities and states to sue law enforcement directly for damages.

What to Do if You Were Maliciously Prosecuted

Anyone who has been arrested without probable cause or whose rights have been violated by law enforcement is well-advised to seek legal representation from a personal injury law firm with experience in successfully litigating civil rights claims. It is even more advantageous to work with an attorney like Cary London with Shulman & Hill who has experience with civil rights claims against the police and other government organizations.

When it comes to protecting your civil rights, it is in your best interests to work with a legal professional who is familiar with the law and its recent developments. Call Shulman & Hill if you believe you may have a valid case against the NYPD for prosecuting you without probable cause.

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