Park v. Thompson, No. 14-56655 (9th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
After plaintiff was acquitted of murder, she filed suit against Detective Karen Thompson and Doe Defendants under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that Thompson violated her constitutional rights to compulsory process and a fair trial by intimidating and attempting to dissuade a key witness from testifying on behalf of the defense, and that Thompson and Doe Defendants conspired to violate her civil rights by orchestrating criminal charges against the key witness. The district court dismissed for failure to state a claim. The court held that plaintiff adequately alleged misconduct by Thompson that rises to the level of substantial interference with a defense witness in contravention of the Compulsory Process Clause of the Sixth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; plaintiff pleaded a sufficient causal connection between Thompson's misconduct and the witness's unavailability; the fact that plaintiff was eventually acquitted does not render the witness's testimony immaterial, nor does it bar plaintiff's section 1983 action stemming from violations of her rights during the underlying criminal investigation and prosecution; the witness's testimony was material to plaintiff's defense because evidence of third-party culpability would have cast some doubt on the government's evidence at plaintiff's trial; and, likewise, plaintiff sufficiently alleged a plausible claim for civil conspiracy. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded.