In 2014, in Deemer v. Beard, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that the Heck v. Humphrey rule required all plaintiffs seeking damages for unconstitutional conviction under § 1983 to demonstrate that the criminal proceeding in question terminated in their favor. This decision defies a majority of circuit courts, which have held that there exists an exception to Heck if the plaintiff does not have other federal means of redress. In its decision, the Third Circuit aligned itself with three other appellate courts that did not take a plaintiff’s lack of access to other means of federal relief into consideration. Although these circuit courts have correctly adhered to binding U.S. Supreme Court precedent, doing so places an unfair burden upon a plaintiff’s ability to challenge an unconstitutional conviction. This Comment contends that the U.S. Supreme Court should settle the Heck circuit split and allow such an exception to the Heck rule to meet the underlying principles of § 1983.
Alice Huang, When Freedom Prevents Vindication: Why the Heck Rule Should Not Bar a Prisoner’s § 1983 Action in Deemer v. Beard, 56 B.C.L. Rev. E. Supp. 65 (2015), https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol56/iss6/6