Bradford v. Scherschligt

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Rights § 1983
  • Date Filed: 10-25-2015
  • Case #: 14-35651
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Hawkins for the Court; Circuit Judges Noonan and Gould
  • Full Text Opinion

To determine the proper date of accrual for a claim, the court must identify the common law analogues to the claim and apply any distinctive accrual rules associated with it.

In 1996, Ted Bradford was convicted of first-degree burglary and rape. With help of the Innocence Project Northwest, and after serving his ten-year sentence, the Washington State courts vacated his conviction based on newly-available DNA testing. The testing excluded him of genetic material found at the crime scene. Bradford conviction was formally vacated on August 1, 2008. The State retried Bradford on February 10, 2010, which resulted in Bradford’s acquittal. On February 7, 2013, Bradford filed § 1983 complaint against Detective Joseph Scherschligt of the Yakima Police Department. Bradford alleged that Detective Scherschligt had deliberate fabricated inculpatory evidence. Detective Scherschlight moved for summary judgment and the district court granted the motion on statute of limitations ground, which is three years in Washington. The district court reasoned that Bradford’s claim accrued on August 1, 2008, when his conviction was vacated and not the date of his acquittal on retrial. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court reversed. Citing Wallace v. Kato, the panel reasoned that to determine the proper date of accrual for a claim, the court must identify the common law analogues to the claim and apply any distinctive accrual rules associated with it. The panel found Bradford’s claim analogues to malicious prosecution tort claim, which do not accrue until the proceedings against the plaintiff “terminate in a matter that they cannot be revived.” Applying principle to Bradford’s claim, the panel concluded that since Bradford was still subject to the same charges on the same evidence as his original conviction, his claim did not accrue until the charges were absolutely resolved and could no longer be revived. The panel refused to consider whether Detective Scherschligt was entitled to qualified immunity. REVERSE and REMAND.

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