U.S. District Court, WDNY
Falsely Accused — Sexual Molestation
Prosecutorial Immunity — Qualified Immunity
Schnitter v. City of Rochester, et al.
Background: The plaintiff brought a § 1983 action against the defendants for his arrest and prosecution on charges of first-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. The charges were based on statements made by the plaintiff’s estranged wife. The charges were dismissed based on exculpatory evidence provided by the assistant district attorney assigned to the case. The defendants moved to dismiss.
Ruling: The District Court granted the motion. The court found that the prosecutors named in the complaint had absolute prosecutorial immunity. The plaintiff’s claim rests solely on the prosecutor’s decision to charge him with a crime. Further, there was no evidence that the defendants fabricated evidence. The District Court also held that the county could not be held liable for the acts of the prosecutors as the prosecutors acted on behalf of New York state. With respect to the city defendants, the court found that the arresting officers were entitled to qualified immunity as the plaintiff’s wife’s eyewitness testimony gave rise to probable cause.
Christina A. Agola for the plaintiff; Spencer L. Ash for the defendants