from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Tennessee at Knoxville. No. 3:16-cv-00122-Pamela
Lynn Reeves, District Judge.
Lewis, BANKS AND JONES, Knoxville, Tennessee, for Appellant.
L. Garrett, Maryville, Tennessee, for Appellee Blount County
and Appellee Scott Carpenter in his official capacity.
M. Prince, N. Craig Strand, O'NEIL PARKER &
WILLIAMSON, PLLC, Knoxville, Tennessee, for Appellee Scott
Carpenter in his individual capacity.
Miller, OFFICE OF THE TENNESSEE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Nashville,
Tennessee, for Appellee James Brooks.
Before: KEITH, KETHLEDGE, and THAPAR, Circuit Judges.
KETHLEDGE, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Jordan seeks damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
prosecutorial misconduct that led to his wrongful conviction
for second-degree murder. The district court dismissed his
suit as untimely, holding that his claim accrued when the
state court of appeals vacated his conviction, rather than
when he was acquitted on remand. We respectfully disagree and
March 1998, Jennifer Byerley was found beside the road with
her throat slashed. Jordan was charged and eventually
convicted for the murder, but prosecutors never told him
about certain evidence-namely a knife found near where
Byerley had lain-that might have implicated someone else. The
Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed on direct
review, but Jordan thereafter sought post-conviction relief
under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87 (1963),
which requires the prosecution to disclose exculpatory
evidence to the defense. On that ground, the same court of
appeals vacated Jordan's conviction in 2011 and remanded
to the trial court for further proceedings. See Jordan v.
State, 343 S.W.3d 84 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. 2011); Tenn.
Code Ann. § 40-30-111(a). Jordan was retried and
acquitted in 2015.
than a year later, Jordan sued a Blount County prosecutor,
detective, and the County itself under § 1983, seeking
damages for the Brady violation. The statute of
limitations for that claim is one year. See Tenn.
Code Ann. § 28-3-104(a); Roberson v. Tennessee,
399 F.3d 792, 794 (6th Cir. 2005). The question here is
whether, as the district court held, Jordan's claim
accrued when his conviction was vacated, or whether instead
it accrued upon his later acquittal. We review the district
court's decision de novo. See Mills v. Barnard,
869 F.3d 473, 479 (6th Cir. 2017).
general rule, a claim accrues "when the plaintiff can
file suit and obtain relief." Wallace v. Kato,
549 U.S. 384, 388 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted).
To obtain relief, the plaintiff must be able to prove the
elements of his claim. Cf. Carey v. Piphus, 435 U.S.
247, 257-58 (1978). To determine those elements for purposes
of a claim brought under § 1983, "we look first to
the common law of torts." Heck v. Humphrey, 512
U.S. 477, 483 (1994).
closest common-law analogy to a Brady claim is one
for malicious prosecution, because that claim, unlike one for
false arrest, "permits damages for confinement imposed
pursuant to legal process." Id. at 484. One
element of a malicious-prosecution claim "is termination
of the prior criminal proceeding in favor of the
accused." Id. (citing W. Keeton et al.,
Prosser and Keeton on Law of Torts 874 (5th ed.
1984)). A Brady claim under § 1983 cannot
accrue, therefore, until the criminal proceeding so
the more specific question here is whether Jordan's
"criminal proceeding" terminated in 2011, when the
state court of appeals vacated his conviction and remanded
for further proceedings in the trial court. Our decision in
King v. Harwood, 852 F.3d 568 (6th Cir. 2017), makes
clear that the answer is no. There, like here, the state
court of appeals set aside King's conviction on
post-conviction review and remanded her case to the trial
court. The trial court later dismissed the charges against
her. King thereafter brought a § 1983 claim that (as
here) we analogized to a malicious-prosecution claim for
purposes of accrual. Id. at 579. That claim did not
accrue "[w]hen the Kentucky Court of Appeals granted
King relief, " we held, because the court's decision
"did not result immediately in a termination of the
criminal proceeding in favor of the accused[.]"
Id. (internal quotation marks and ellipses omitted).
Instead King's claim accrued only when her criminal
proceeding in fact ended, which occurred "when
King's indictment was dismissed[.]" Id.