POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY v. MCGHEE

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
08-1065
Petitioner 
Pottawattamie County, Iowa, et al.
Respondent 
Curtis W. McGhee, Jr., et al.
Advocates
(pro hac vice, for the petitioners)
(Deputy Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the petitioners)
(for the respondents)
Term:
Facts of the Case 

In 1978, Curtis W. McGhee Jr. and Terry Harrington were convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment by an Iowa state court. In 2002, Mr. McGhee's and Mr. Harrington's convictions were reversed because the prosecutor at their trial improperly withheld evidence of an alternative suspect. Subsequently, Mr. McGhee and Mr. Harrington filed civil claims in an Iowa federal court against Pottawattamie County, Iowa, and the prosecutors and officers involved in their prosecution. The defendants moved for summary judgment arguing that they were absolutely immune to civil prosecution. The district court found some defendants immune to certain claims, but denied immunity to other defendants on the other claims. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit granted interlocutory appeal on the question of whether the prosecutors were absolutely immune to civil prosecution.

The Eighth Circuit held that the prosecutors were not immune from claims that they violated Mr. McGhee's and Mr. Harrington's due process rights. The court reasoned that allegations that prosecutors obtained, manufactured, coerced, and fabricated evidence did not fall within "a distinctly prosecutorial function" and thus the prosecutors were not immune to the claims.

Question 

May a prosecutor be subject to civil prosecution when he allegedly violated the criminal defendants' substantial due process rights by fabricating evidence and then introducing it at trial against the defendants?

Conclusion 

Dismissed pursuant to the Court's Rule 46.

Cite this Page
POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY v. MCGHEE. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 12 December 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2009/2009_08_1065>.
POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY v. MCGHEE, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2009/2009_08_1065 (last visited December 12, 2014).
"POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY v. MCGHEE," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed December 12, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2009/2009_08_1065.