Hartman v. MooreAnnotate this Case
547 U.S. ___ (2006)
547 U. S. ____ (2006)
HARTMAN V. MOORE
547 U. S. ____ (2006)
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
MICHAEL HARTMAN, FRANK KORMANN, PIERCE McINTOSH, NORMAN ROBBINS, and ROBERT EDWARDS, PETITIONERS v. WILLIAM G. MOORE, Jr.
on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the district of columbia circuit
[April 26, 2006]
Justice Ginsburg, with whom Justice Breyer joins, dissenting.
The Court of Appeals, reviewing the record so far made, determined that “[t]he evidence of retaliatory motive [came] close to the proverbial smoking gun.” 388 F. 3d 871, 884 (CADC 2004). The record also indicated that the postal inspectors engaged in “unusual prodding,” strenuously urging a reluctant U. S. Attorney’s Office to press charges against Moore. Ibid. Following Circuit precedent, the Court of Appeals held that “once a plaintiff shows [conduct sheltered by the First Amendment] to have been a motivating factor in the decision to press charges,” the burden shifts to the defending officials to show that the case would have been pursued anyway. Id., at 878.
Recognizing that this case is now directed against the instigating postal inspectors alone, not the prosecutor, I would not assign to the plaintiff the burden of pleading and proving the absence of probable cause for the prosecution. Instead, in agreement with the Court of Appeals, I would assign to the postal inspectors who urged the prosecution the burden of showing that, had there been no retaliatory motive and importuning, the U. S. Attorney’s Office nonetheless would have pursued the case.
Under the Court’s proof burden allocation, which saddles plaintiff
For reasons fully developed in the D. C. Circuit’s opinion, I conclude that, in full accord with this Court’s decision in Mt. Healthy City Bd. of Ed. v. Doyle,429 U. S. 274, 287 (1977), the Court of Appeals’ decision strikes the proper balance. I would, therefore, affirm the Circuit’s judgment.
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