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Jackson v. Curry

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

April 19, 2018

Daniel Jackson, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Shawn Curry, et al., Defendants-Appellants.

          Argued December 7, 2017

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 16-cv-1054 - Sara Darrow, Judge.

          Before Bauer, Manion, and Sykes, Circuit Judges.

          Manion, Circuit Judge.

         Daniel Jackson spent time in custody on a wrongful murder conviction. He sued Shawn Curry and Keith McDaniel, the police officers who interrogated him, for coercing his confession. The officers moved for dismissal on qualified immunity. The district court denied that motion, and the officers appeal. Lacking jurisdiction, we dismiss this appeal.

          I. Background[1]

         On the night of August 29, 2009, Clifford Harvey, Jr., and Easton Eibeck walked through Peoria, Illinois. Eibeck was high. Four men confronted Harvey and Eibeck. When one of the four reached for his waistband, Harvey and Eibeck ran. Eibeck heard a gunshot and kept running. The shooter killed Harvey. At the scene, police found the body, bullet fragment, and a screwdriver, but no weapon, shell casing, or eyewitness. Eibeck could generally describe, but not positively identify, the shooter to Curry the next day.

         About six months later, Curry conducted a photo line-up and Eibeck identified Jackson. This led to Jackson's warrantless arrest. He had consumed alcohol and drugs before his arrest. Curry and McDaniel interrogated Jackson for about two hours, on video. Jackson was high and woozy during the interrogation. He said he was not at the shooting.

         McDaniel, who is black, told Jackson if he remained silent he would still be charged with murder. McDaniel told Jackson he would not receive a fair trial because he is a young black man, and the biased jury would convict him based on prejudice regardless of the facts. The officers allegedly lied about the evidence, falsely claiming multiple witnesses identified Jackson as the shooter. The officers suggested Harvey threatened Jackson with a screwdriver and he shot in self-defense. The officers fed Jackson details and allegedly pressured him to make false inculpatory statements. During the interrogation, Jackson showed signs of intoxication and diminished capacity, including slurred speech and uncoordinated movements. About two hours and fifteen minutes after the interrogation began, Jackson collapsed and fell to the floor. He did not respond to initial revival efforts. Jackson told responding paramedics he felt dizzy and his head had hurt for a couple hours. He went to the hospital.

         Jackson stood trial. The State presented Eibeck's identification of Jackson and video excerpts of Jackson's interrogation. The jury convicted him of first-degree murder, and the judge sentenced him to 65 years in prison.

         But Jackson claims he had nothing to do with the murder. The Illinois Appellate Court reversed the conviction, concluding the police lacked probable cause to arrest Jackson. People v. Jackson, 22 N.E.3d 526, 542 (Ill.App.Ct. 2014).

         Jackson sued various Defendants for constitutional violations. All Defendants moved to dismiss. The only claim at issue here is Count II, which claims the officers coerced a confession in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The officers moved for dismissal of Count II based on qualified immunity. The district court denied that motion. The officers appeal.

         II. Discussion

         The threshold issue is whether we have jurisdiction. See In re Ortiz, 665 F.3d 906, 909 (7th Cir. 2011). We have jurisdiction over appeals from "final decisions" of district courts. 28 U.S.C. § 1291. A denial of a motion to dismiss is generally not immediately appealable because it is not final. See United States v. Michelle's Lounge, 39 F.3d 684, 702 (7th Cir. ...


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