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Peterson v. Heymes

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

July 25, 2019

Jamie Lee Peterson, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
David Heymes, et al., Defendants, David Israel and County of Kalkaska; Greg Somers and Mark Uribe, Defendants-Appellants.

          Argued: October 4, 2018

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan at Grand Rapids. No. 1:15-cv-00969-Paul Lewis Maloney, District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          Douglas J. Curlew, CUMMINGS, MCCLOREY, DAVIS & ACHO, PLC, Livonia, Michigan, for Appellants David Israel and County of Kalkaska.

          John G. Fedynsky, OFFICE OF THE MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL, Lansing, Michigan, for Appellants Greg Somers and Mark Uribe.

          Roshna Bala Keen, LOEVY & LOEVY, Chicago, Illinois, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Douglas J. Curlew, CUMMINGS, MCCLOREY, DAVIS & ACHO, P.L.C., Livonia, Michigan, for Appellants David Israel and County of Kalkaska.

          John G. Fedynsky, OFFICE OF THE MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL, Lansing, Michigan, for Appellants Greg Somers and Mark Uribe.

          Roshna Bala Keen, Jon Loevy, LOEVY & LOEVY, Chicago, Illinois, for Appellee.

          Before: SILER and KETHLEDGE, Circuit Judges; OLIVER, District Judge [*]

          OPINION

          OLIVER, DISTRICT JUDGE

         In 2014, the Circuit Court for the County of Kalkaska, Michigan vacated Plaintiff-Appellee Jamie Lee Peterson's ("Peterson") conviction for a 1996 rape and murder. Thereafter, he commenced this action, asserting federal claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and various state-law claims in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan against Defendants-Appellants David Israel (a Deputy in the Kalkaska County Sheriff's Department), Gregory Somers and Mark Uribe (officers of the Michigan State Police), and the County of Kalkaska ("Defendants").[1] Peterson seeks redress for claims arising from an allegedly coerced confession, which was admitted into evidence in Peterson's criminal trial, but was not the basis for Peterson's relief from judgment. The district court found that Peterson was not collaterally estopped from relitigating the voluntariness of his confession and thus denied Defendants qualified immunity, absolute witness immunity, and governmental immunity. Defendants appeal.

         For the following reasons, we AFFIRM the district court's decision to deny qualified immunity and governmental immunity to Defendants Somers and Uribe and to deny their Motion to Dismiss on all claims. Additionally, we REVERSE the district court's decision to deny Defendant Israel qualified immunity and governmental immunity. Thus, we find that the district court erred in declining to dismiss the federal-law and state-law claims against Israel. Finally, we REVERSE the district court's decision to deny governmental immunity to the County of Kalkaska and to deny the County's Motion to Dismiss as to the federal-law and state-law claims against it. We REMAND to the district court for further action consistent with this opinion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 1996, Geraldine Montgomery was sexually assaulted and murdered in her home in Kalkaska, Michigan. Months later, 22-year-old Jamie Lee Peterson was in the Kalkaska County Jail on an unrelated charge, when another inmate informed Officers Heymes, Israel, and Somers that Peterson had made an incriminating statement about the Montgomery crime. Peterson claims that at the time, he suffered from brain damage, mental illness, and severe depression, and was ...


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