Anyone trying to convince a judge or a jury that a police officer is lying, have hope! Kwame Garnett always asserted that an undercover officer was lying about his involvement in a drug buy and bust. Unlike many defendants, however, Mr. Garnett was able to convince the judge and jury that he proved that the undercover made up evidence. Not only did a jury acquit Mr. Garnett of state drug charges, but he also successfully sued the undercover officer under 42 U.S.C. §1983, arguing that the officer had denied him a fair trial by fabricating evidence. The jury awarded Mr. Garnett $1 in nominal damages and $20,000 in punitive damages. The undercover officer appealed. Today, in a unanimous opinion written by Judge Pooler, the Second Circuit affirmed the jury verdict.
Supreme Court Alert Reminder
In case you missed the news yesterday:
For everyone litigating Johnson claims based on 18 USC § 924(c), take note that the Supreme Court granted cert yesterday in Lynch v. Dimaya, 15-1498. The issue in Dimaya is whether the residual clause in 18 USC § 16(b), which has the same wording as the residual clause in 18 USC § 924(c), is void for vagueness under Johnson. Practice note: that the Supreme Court is considering this issue gives defendants a good argument that district courts should wait to decide any 2255 petitions based on Johnson and 924(c) until the Supreme Court reaches a decision in Dimaya.