A federal appeals court rejected an appeal made by several Kansas law enforcement officers seeking qualified immunity in connection to their role in the arrest and prosecution a man wrongly convicted of murdering a young girl.
After being convicted in November 1999 of the murder of 14-year-old Camille Arfmann, Floyd Bledsoe was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment in Kansas .
After he confessed to the crime and led authorities to the body, Floyd Bledsoe was initially charged with murder. These charges were dropped, and Floyd Bledsoe arrested. In 2000, he was convicted of murder, kidnapping, and indecent liberties. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
After writing a note confessing that he had killed the girl, his brother committed suicide. After DNA evidence proved that he wasn’t the murderer, Floyd Bledsoe was cleared of all charges.
Bledsoe brought a federal suit against 10 defendants in 2016, including Jefferson County law enforcement officers, and Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents. He claimed they violated his civil rights, fabricating and suppressing evidence that would prove his innocence.
The U.S. appeal was made by the defendants. The District Court judge granted Bledsoe’s lawsuit permission. They argued that they should have granted immunity to the case and that Bledsoe had not shown that he had violated his rights.
Public officials are generally protected from personal liability by qualified immunity if they act in good faith at the time.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rebuffed the argument of qualified immunity and dismissed the motion of the law officers to dismiss the case.
“We conclude that Bledsoe sufficiently alleged that each appellant contributed in depriving him his constitutional rights,” the appeals court’s ruling stated.
Ruth Brown, Bledsoe’s attorney, stated in an email Wednesday that she was happy with the decision of the appellate court.
Brown stated that he hoped the parties would resume discovery and fact-finding without any additional delay. “Mr. Bledsoe is looking forward to a trial and holding the Defendants responsible for his wrongful conviction.”
The attorneys for the defendants didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment about the ruling.
2019: Under a misconviction law, the state agreed that Bledsoe would be paid $1.03 million.