Hart v. Hillsdale County, No. 18–1305 (6th Cir. 2020)
Nature of Case: Appellee had been convicted of a sex offense, and required to register as a sex offender under Michigan law. In 2011, the Michigan legislature narrowed those offenses which required registration which meant that Appellee was no longer required to register. Nevertheless, Appellee continued to register and Michigan authorities continued to accept his registration. In 2013 and 2014, Appellee registered an incorrect address and was arrested. Defendants incorrectly represented on warrants that Appellee was required to register, and he was convicted of failing to comply. Appellee spent 19 months in prison before state officials realized he was in prison for a crime he could not have committed, as he was not required to register due to the 2011 legislature changes. Appellee was subsequently released, and filed a lawsuit alleging false arrest, malicious prosecution, and defamation. Appellants moved to dismiss on qualified immunity grounds, and the district court denied the motion. Defendant-Appellants sought review.
Holding: The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision to withhold qualified immunity as to most of the claims that Plaintiff-Appellee brought, with the exception of defamation claims against certain city and county defendants who were not alleged to be involved with the publication of registration information.