Argued: November 8, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Western
District of New York No.17-cv-407, Geraci, Chief Judge.
Matthew A. Albert, Law Offices of Matthew Albert, Buffalo,
NY, for Plaintiff-Appellant.
W. Costello, Rupp Baase Pfalzgraf Cunningham LLC, Buffalo,
NY, for Defendants-Appellees.
Before: Raggi, Hall, and Sullivan, Circuit Judges.
John Dettelis appeals the district court's dismissal of
his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint. Dettelis claimed
malicious prosecution, alleging that Appellees falsely
charged him with violating a condition of his probation. The
district court concluded that Dettelis's conviction for
that violation, though overturned on appeal, still gave rise
to a presumption of probable cause that Dettelis failed to
overcome. We refrain from deciding whether that presumption
applies and, instead, conclude that Appellees were entitled
to qualified immunity.
John Dettelis appeals from a judgment of dismissal entered,
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), on
November 30, 2017, in the United States District Court for
the Western District of New York (Geraci, C.J.).
Dettelis was serving a term of probation, a condition of
which required him to report certain police contact. When he
failed to report an incident with a police officer, he was
charged with violating the terms of his probation. His
resulting conviction was overturned on appeal, and Dettelis
then brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit against County
Probation Director Gerald Zimmerman, Probation Supervisor
Michael Sharbaugh, and Probation Officer Denise Lengvarsky
("Appellees"), claiming malicious prosecution. The
district court granted Appellees' motion to dismiss,
concluding in part that Dettelis failed to overcome a
presumption of probable cause that arose from the facts
underlying his subsequently vacated conviction. This appeal
affirm the challenged dismissal without delineating the
contours of a presumption of probable cause here because we
conclude that Appellees are, in any event, entitled to
April 2011, Dettelis was convicted by state court of driving
while intoxicated and sentenced to three years'
probation. A condition of his probation required him
to contact his probation officer "upon arrest or
questioning" by law enforcement officials. App. 15,
¶ 54. In November 2012, Dettelis went to the town
courthouse in Yorkshire, New York, demanding unrelated
records but was asked to leave when he became loud and
unruly. At the request of the court clerk, a state police
officer went to Dettelis's home and told him not to go to
the court for the records but instead to have his lawyer
collect those documents.
December 2013, Dettelis became aware of a Violation of
Probation ("VOP") report charging him with having
violated the terms of his probation by not reporting the
November 2012 police contact. Although the report was dated
and notarized in November 2012, Dettelis believed that it had
been fabricated by Appellees at the behest of the district
attorney. This was done, Dettelis alleged, because county
personnel wanted to "imprison [him] by any means
possible." App. 17, ¶ 65. The county court
nevertheless determined by a preponderance of the evidence
that Dettelis had violated his probation and sentenced him to
90 days in jail. The Fourth Department reversed, concluding
that "the evidence at the hearing [did] not establish
that the interaction between defendant and the police officer