Thompson vs. Clark
The Center for Antiracist Research filed an amicus brief in Thompson v. Clark. This case presents an opportunity for the U.S. Supreme Court to close a procedural loophole that shields police officers from accountability under federal civil rights law for pursuing false criminal charges, which are often used to target Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC). In many parts of the country, BIPOC are disproportionately victims of false criminal charges. Those charges are sometimes rightfully dismissed, but not before they cause significant harm, including wrongful arrest and detention, as well as physical, emotional, financial, professional, reputational, and other setbacks.
In Thompson, the Court will decide whether to affirm the “indications-of-innocence” standard, which some courts use to determine whether a person who claims to have been falsely charged may, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, sue the police officers or prosecutors who pursued those charges. The indications-of-innocence standard requires claimants to show that the criminal proceeding against them, which they claim was unlawful, ended in a way that affirmatively demonstrates their innocence. This is nearly impossible to do when false criminal charges are dismissed.
We urge the Court to reject the indications-of-innocence standard, which perpetuates racial inequity by preventing courts from hearing potentially meritorious federal civil rights claims arising from police officers’ racially biased and disparate pursuit of false criminal charges, and by ignoring realities of the criminal legal system that make it especially difficult for BIPOC to prove their innocence. Read our brief here.