Supreme Court Update: Chiaverini vs. City of Napoleon

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Supreme Court Update:  Chiaverini vs. City of Napoleon, Ohio


This case could make it much easier for private citizens to file civil rights claims against police for alleged malicious prosecutions, increasing counties’ financial liability and potentially chilling the practice of standard law enforcement.


This case focuses on the constitutionality of the "any-crime" rule for a malicious prosecution claim, which says that when an individual receives multiple charges, probable cause for any one charge insulates every other charge from a malicious prosecution claim under Section 1983 unless a plaintiff shows that the addition of another, baseless charge caused or lengthened his detention. A jewelry store owner whose malicious prosecution lawsuit against the City of Napoleon, Ohio was dismissed on this basis is arguing that the "charge-specific rule" should apply, in which a malicious prosecution claim can proceed as to a baseless criminal charge, even if other charges brought alongside the baseless charge are supported by probable cause. The Court's decision will resolve an existing circuit split on this question.

Local governments and local law enforcement officers frequently face claims of malicious prosecution—the vast majority of which are meritless but costly to litigate. Should the Court adopt the "charge-specific" rule, local governments may see an increase in such claims. Not only will this expand liability for counties indemnifying police officers, it could also create a chilling effect on law enforcement and prosecutors.


Argument scheduled for April 15, 2024.


View the Local Government Legal Center Amicus Brief in support of the respondent.