The undersigned organizations representing a diverse universe of constituents who care about civil rights and civil liberties write in support of S. 417, the State Secrets Protection Act. This bill strikes an appropriate balance between allowing plaintiffs to seek justice through our judicial system and protecting information that would endanger national security if released to the litigants or the public. We urge the bill’s immediate passage.
Brief of National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, The Innocence Project, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, The National Police Accountability Project, Center of the Administration of Criminal Law and NYU School of Law, Human Rights Defense Center, and New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association as Amici Curiae in Support of Plaintiff-Appellee
Argument: Rehearing is warranted to preclude governments from immunizing themselves from liability by conditioning release from wrongful incarceration on a no-contest plea. The inherently coercive no-contest plea required as a condition of release from wrongful imprisonment should not be allowed to confer immunity. Heck does not apply to lawsuits by former prisoners who have completed their sentences and cannot seek a writ of habeas corpus. The panel’s majority causation holding should be reheard to prevent significant and deleterious practical effects. Restricting Heck to its proper scope will not unduly burden government, but would serve the interests of justice.