Thirty-two channels and nothing on
Case: NATTRESS v. Lancaster County, Dist. Court, D. Nebraska 2015
What happened: Plaintiff was on trial, where he was a defendant on a sexual assault charge, and he won his trial. Instead of immediately releasing him upon the jury’s verdict of “not guilty,” security was going to take him back to jail for some kind of out-processing. During this time, plaintiff and the guards taking him back to jail had an altercation in the hallway and elevator of the county courthouse complex. Plaintiff alleges that the guards beat him up in retaliation for a gesture he made in the courtroom. The guards claimed that plaintiff resisted handcuffing and attacked them. There were 100 cameras in the courthouse, but only 32 recorded at any given time. The county alleged that none of the courthouse videos shows the altercation. Plaintiff was convicted of third degree assault against one of the guards.
Decision: By pleading guilty to the third degree assault charge, plaintiff lost his wrongful arrest claims under Heck doctrine. No qi for police on excessive force.
[T]he plaintiff argues that he only pled no contest to assault because video recordings of the force used to arrest him had not been retained, and he was threatened with the charge of being a habitual criminal. . . . Essentially, he implies that his guilty plea was coerced. But Heck holds that a § 1983 claim that would necessarily imply the invalidity of a conviction or sentence should be dismissed without prejudice unless the “conviction has already been invalidated.” . . . His allegation of a coerced plea does not change that.
Comment: Maybe it is time to reverse Heck because of the coerced guilty plea problem. This would be a good case for the Supreme Court because the assault charge here does look like it was brought to cover up the fact that the guards beat up their prisoner for no good reason.
Another comment: 32 cameras and no video. Please!