For 19 years, his home was a prison. However, when the 9th Circuit overturned Harold Hall’s double murder convictions, and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office declined to retry Hall, Hall came home. Now the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has given Hall another gift, granting him the right to sue the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for his wrongful convictions.
In 1985, the LAPD arrested Hall and charged him with robbery. Housed among jail house informants, according to the Court of Appeals, Hall was a “sitting duck for predatory informants.” Three experienced jailhouse informants, with cases pending, discussed one murder case with Hall. The informants then falsely implicated Hall in that murder case, as well as a second murder case. After a 17 hour interrogation during which Hall was handcuffed, denied food, and never advised of his rights, Hall confessed to the murders.
Hall knew he was innocent, though, and in 2004, after determining that Hall’s conviction was based on falsified documents and his confession was secured under duress, the 9th Circuit granted Hall’s habeas petition. After his release Hall sued the city of Los Angeles for violating his civil rights. Because he did not claim 5th Amendment violations, which protect people from forced self-incrimination, the district court dismissed his lawsuit. On appeal, the Court of Appeals agreed with the district court that Hall had not raised triable issues of fact to support 5th Amendment violations, such as his falsified evidence and coerced confession claims. Nevertheless, the Court of Appeals ruled that the “exceptional circumstances” in Hall’s case compelled the court to let Hall amend his complaint to “avoid manifest injustice.” The 2-1 case was remanded to the district court with instructions to allow Hall to amend his complaint to plead an explicit Fifth Amendment violation.
Hall now works for the Los Angeles County Bar Association as a program coordinator for a project that provides lawyers for indigent defendants.
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