The following briefs opposing defendants’ motion to dismiss have recently been filed in Dail, v. City of Goldsboro, et al.: Plaintiff’s First Response Brief and Plaintiff’s Second Response Brief. Mr. Dail was convicted of a crime he did not commit and subsequently imprisoned for 18 years. He was exonerated in 2007 when DNA evidence proved his innocence. This evidence – which was later recovered – had been improperly handled and allegedly destroyed in 1995 by the City of Goldsboro. The case is now before Judge Boyle in federal court (EDNC). Mr. Dail is represented by Burton Craige and Narendra Ghosh of Patterson Harkavy, as well as Spencer Parris and Christopher Olson at Martin & Jones. More on the case can be found here. This a summary of Plaintiff’s argument:
Dail has properly stated cognizable claims for relief arising from his wrongful incarceration. Dail has stated a valid claim for municipal liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S. Ct. 2018 (1978), because Defendants had a policy or practice of failing to properly inventory and safeguard evidence, including the evidence that ultimately exonerated Dail. Defendants’ unconstitutional conduct arbitrarily denied Dail’s liberty interest and resulted in his continued wrongful incarceration. Unlike the plaintiff in District Attorney’s Office for Third Judicial District v. Osborne, 129 S. Ct. 2308 (2009), the principal case upon which Defendants rely, Dail has not impermissibly used § 1983 to seek access to potential evidence, but instead properly invokes § 1983 to redress Defendants’ unconstitutional failure to reasonably maintain evidence.
Dail has also properly brought state law claims for negligence and obstruction of justice, which are not time-barred. Those claims did not accrue until August 27, 2007, when Defendants first notified Dail of the results of the DNA testing, or on August 28, 2007, when Dail was finally released from custody, and thus were timely filed on August 26, 2010. Finally, Dail has stated valid claims under the North Carolina Constitution based on Defendants’ violations of his rights to procedural due process and entitlement to exculpatory evidence.
This case presents weighty issues of constitutional significance in an evolving area of law. Consideration of the merits of the claims asserted in this action should follow development of a full factual record.