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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In 1984, Dennis Patrick Brown was convicted of rape and sentenced to life in prison. Twenty years later, DNA testing proved him innocent, and he was released. He sued the city of Covington, La., and several of its officers for their alleged misconduct in the investigation and prosecution of his case. Jane Doe, a white woman, was raped in her home in Covington, La., in 1984. She provided her minipad and underwear to the police, along with specimens from a rape examination, all of which were forwarded to the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory. Doe also assisted the police in creating a sketch of her attacker, though the sketch lacked identifiable features, because the attack had occurred in the dark, and the attacker had worn a baseball cap and mask. Later, Doe identified Brown as her attacker in a lineup; he had been asked to volunteer for the lineup only as a “fill-in” and was not represented by counsel. The police obtained samples of blood, hair and saliva. They fingerprinted Brown but did not arrest him. The police investigator forwarded the physical samples to the Louisiana State Crime lab, along with an annotation that Brown had been “identified via line-up.” Brown alleges that this annotation violated department policy and that its purpose was to encourage the lab to confirm a genetic match and to suppress any exculpatory results. Miller, the laboratory technician, performed the “ABO test” on the samples and then compared the antigens in Brown’s blood with the antigens found in the mixture of blood and semen from the minipad and underwear. This test revealed the presence of the H antigen in the mixture. Both Jane Doe and Brown had blood type O and were secretors. Brown alleged that at this point Miller either intentionally and in bad faith failed to conduct additional, commonly used tests (“Rh tests” and “enzyme tests”) that would have made the identification more specific and accurate and likely excluded Brown as the donor, or, in the alternative, that Miller did conduct those tests, that those tests were conclusively exculpatory, and that Miller concealed the exculpatory results. Brown specifically alleged that these other tests were commonly used in the same lab at the time, that Miller knew about and used those other tests in the same year, that Miller was unable to draw conclusions in similar identification cases without performing those more specific tests and that Miller could have performed those tests in Brown’s case. Miller argued that these facts support an inference either that Miller actually did conduct the tests in this case or that he knew he should have reported that his results were inconclusive without further testing. Shortly after the testing, Miller gave verbal confirmation of a positive match to an investigating officer. Although the content of this conversation is unknown, the officer immediately swore out an affidavit that Brown had been positively identified by the blood test. Brown alleges that this verbal confirmation was in violation of police procedure. Police officers arrested Brown and charged him with the rape. Miller later submitted a written report, which stated that the semen donor either had blood type O or was a nonsecretor. Brown alleges that this was a scientifically inaccurate conclusion to draw from the results, because it failed to acknowledge the possibility that the H antigen had come only from the victim’s own blood and indicated nothing about the rapist. At trial, Miller testified that he could conclude on the basis of his blood tests that Brown was within the 46.5 percent of the male population who could have contributed the semen. Brown alleged that this statement was inaccurate and misleading for the same reasons his report was misleading. Based on the blood results, the line-up identification, and what he alleges was a false and coerced confession, Brown was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Brown alleges that all of the wrongful actions by Miller were done intentionally and in bad faith and that they were in furtherance of a conspiracy with police officers to deny Brown his constitutional rights because of his race. The minipad was retested in 2003 by the state of Louisiana and the Innocence Project. This testing revealed that Brown could not have been the donor of the semen. Brown was released, and the city of Covington declined to reprosecute. Brown sued the city of Covington, several of its police officers and Miller. The five claims against Miller, out of 10 total in the initial complaint, include: a complaint under 42 U.S.C. �1983 claim for depriving Brown of his rights to a fair trial and due process of law; claims under 42 U.S.C. ��1983 and 1985(3) claims for conspiracy to deprive Brown of his rights because of racial animus; a state-law claim for malicious prosecution; a state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress; and a state law claim for spoliation of evidence. Miller filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Brown had failed to state a claim and that Miller was entitled to official immunity against Brown’s claims. The district court ordered Brown to submit a reply brief and plead specific facts that would overcome Miller’s assertion of qualified immunity. Brown complied. The district court then denied the motion to dismiss, finding that Brown had stated a claim and that Miller was not entitled to qualified immunity on the basis of the pleadings and reply. Miller timely appealed the denial of the qualified immunity defense. HOLDING:Affirmed in part, dismissed in part, remanded in part. To prevail on a claim under 42 U.S.C. �1983, the court stated, a plaintiff must first show a violation of the Constitution or of federal law and then show that the violation was committed by someone acting under color of state law. The qualified immunity defense to such claims seeks to shield from liability government officials performing discretionary functions “insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Courts must evaluate claims of qualified immunity in a two step process. First, a court must determine whether the “facts alleged show the officer’s conduct violated a constitutional right.” If the court finds a violation then it proceeds to the second step, which is to determine whether “the right was clearly established . . . in light of the specific context of the case.” To be clearly established for purposes of qualified immunity, the contours of the right must be sufficiently clear that a reasonable official would understand that what he is doing violates that right. Brown alleged two acts that he claimed violated his rights. First, he alleged that Miller overstated the results of the blood tests he conducted, effectively fabricating evidence by overstating his results and putting forward misleading scientific conclusions. Second, he alleged that Miller ran additional tests besides those he reported (i.e., enzyme tests), that the results exculpated Brown, and that Miller concealed, suppressed or destroyed these results. The law was sufficiently clear in 1984, the court stated, that a state crime lab technician would have known that suppression of exculpatory blood test results would violate a defendant’s rights. Therefore, the court held that the district court did not err in denying the qualified immunity defense on the �1983 theory. Section 1985(3) prohibits persons from conspiring “for the purpose of depriving, either directly or indirectly, any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws.” In an interlocutory appeal, the court stated that it had jurisdiction only to consider the question whether Miller was entitled to qualified immunity as a matter of law. The court stated that it lacked jurisdiction to review the simple denial of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The court therefore dismissed that portion of Miller’s appeal. Finally, the court found that Miller waived any assignments of error regarding the denial of his motion to dismiss the state law claims on the basis of qualified immunity. Miller, the court stated, did not argue that he had qualified immunity against the state law claims under the Louisiana law of qualified immunity. He only claimed the protection of federal qualified immunity, the court stated. OPINION:Owen, J.; DeMoss, Dennis and Owen, JJ.

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