JACKSON v. PARKER (December 3, 2010)

On a spring afternoon in 2006, Wayne Jackson was southbound on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive ("Urban America's Most Beautiful Roadway") in his pickup truck. Unfortunately, his truck was licensed as a commercial vehicle and therefore prohibited on the Drive. Chicago police officer Joe Parker noticed the plates and also observed Jackson making two illegal lane changes. Parker stopped Jackson's car and then observed a windshield crack, another ordinance violation. He also administered field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer, which he claims Jackson failed. Jackson was released after approximately 12 hours at the police station. Although his arrest report lists DUI, the prosecutor later amended the charge to negligent driving. At trial, Jackson was found guilty of improper lane usage and failing to notify the state of an address change and was found not guilty of negligent driving and driving an unsafe vehicle charges. Jackson brought a § 1983 charge against Parker, claiming a Fourth Amendment false arrest violation. Jackson claimed that Parker falsified the DUI test results. He also presented evidence that Parker regularly reported such false information as part of a scheme to increase his compensation and that he was being internally investigated for his conduct. Judge Conlon (N.D. Ill.) granted summary judgment to Parker, concluding that the unlawful lane change provided sufficient probable cause for the arrest. In the face of that probable cause, Jackson could not prevail whether or not there was probable cause for a DUI arrest. Jackson appeals.

In their opinion, Seventh Circuit Chief Judge Easterbrook and Judges Posner and Tinder affirmed. The Court agreed with the district court and noted that Jackson implicitly agreed as well. Parker had reason to believe that Jackson was violating the law by even being on the roadway in a commercial vehicle. Even though he was never charged with that offense, and even if he had an illicit motivation, the arrest is reasonable. Apparently recognizing that his false arrest claim was not going to survive the appeal, Jackson's counsel reconstituted his argument as a unreasonable detention rather than a false arrest. Unfortunately for Jackson, arguments that are not presented to the district court are normally forfeited on appeal unless the interests of justice require otherwise. The Court concluded that this was not such a case.