June 20, 2019

Victory in the U.S. Supreme Court in case co-counseled by Joel Rudin

Yesterday the firm, co-counseling with other attorneys, won an important victory in the U.S. Supreme Court in McDonough v. Smith. The firm’s client, Edward McDonough, was an elections official in Troy, New York, whom prosecutors charged with ballot tampering after fabricating incriminating evidence against him. The malfeasance of these officials was uncovered and McDonough was acquitted. He then sued the officials for violating his constitutional rights.

The federal trial court dismissed McDonough’s evidence-fabrication claims on the basis that he had brought them too late. It held that the statute of limitations on such claims began to run at the point where he discovered the fabrication of evidence, not when he was acquitted. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed this holding. Our firm stepped in, pro bono, to file a petition for rehearing in the Second Circuit. The petition was denied. Along with McDonough’s trial counsel, we then partnered with leading Supreme Court advocate Neal Katyal to take the case to the Supreme Court.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court reinstated McDonough’s evidence-fabrication lawsuit, holding 6-3 that the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the criminal prosecution in which evidence was fabricated has terminated in favor of the accused. This is an important victory, especially for plaintiffs who have spent years in prison after being wrongfully convicted based on fabricated evidence.

The complete briefing and the Court’s decision are available at SCOTUSblog.