Thanks to the Ninth Circuit's majority opinion in Hall v. City of Los Angeles, Harold Hall...who was victimized many-times over, including by LAPD cops who coerced his confession and a civil court system that allowed procedural obstacles to trump fairness...will get his shot at monetary justice.
After he was exonerated, Harold Hall went to civil court because he wanted to use Section 1983 to sue the cops who harmed him by coercing his confession. Problem was he (or his lawyers) erroneously pled the coerced confession cause of action under a theory of substantive due process instead of the Fifth Amendment. The district court denied Hall the right to amend his pleadings, but the Ninth Circuit reversed, citing the "manifest injustice" that would otherwise result.
The coerced confession that sent Harold Hall to prison for nineteen years for a murder he did not commit involved numerous underhanded cop confession coercion tactics. He was interrogated for hours, while handcuffed, by a swarm of detectives in the county jail (where he also was targeted by a jailhouse snitch), including a cop Hall considered a father-figure. He was given inadequate food and bathroom breaks. When he asked for a lawyer, he was told that only guilty people needed them.
He also was deceived, as the duplicitous cops told him they had evidence of semen and footprints which they did not have. He was told that if he went to prison he would be killed by Crips or Bloods, as both gangs had reason to retaliate against him in connection with a drive-by shooting.
What was he to do? No surprise, he "gave in to desperation, fear and fatigue." He confessed....but almost 30 years later he'll get his day in court.
"We are reminded today that as jurists we hold the power to protect individuals against arbitrary government action and abuse of power," the Ninth Circuit wrote in the opinion that will give him the chance to get justice for his coerced confession and all the damage it did.
"Certainly, on these facts, Hall's § 1983 counsel should have pled a Fifth Amendment coerced confession claim in the initial complaint. That error turned out to be unfortunate and, without remand for amendment of the complaint, would prove dire to Hall’s case. But we cannot escape the fact that justice eluded Hall during his highly suspect, and constitutionally questionable, interrogation. Justice eluded Hall when he suffered a conviction based on that confession and the patently false inculpatory evidence created by a jailhouse informant. Justice eluded Hall when he served nineteen years in state prison for a crime he did not commit. And justice will elude Hall yet again without the opportunity to amend his complaint and let a jury decide whether he deserves monetary compensation for his unlawful incarceration. If ever there were an exceptional case where we should exercise our discretionary power to avoid manifest injustice, we believe this must be it."