ASSIGNMENT:  Mary Robbins has requested that our office represent her in a Civil Rights matter where she claims she was falsely accused of robbery, was falsely imprisoned, and suffered serious injuries. Please review the following facts of the case, as well as the legal authority that I have provided, to determine the strengths and weaknesses of Ms. Robbin’s case. Discuss whether you think we have a good case against Detective Stone and whether she had probable cause to believe Ms. Robbins was the person who committed the robbery. 

In preparing your memorandum, please consult the sample Legal Memorandums in PCD and Statsky. Please note, this is a closed memo. Therefore, it is important that you do not conduct any outside research or apply any outside law in your analysis/conclusions. Apply the law as provided below.



Jack Davidson was robbed by a woman he identified as “Sally Robbins or Robinson” on June 1, 2020.  For the next two days he remained at home afraid to leave before he contacted his mental health worker and explained what happened.  The police were notified, and on June 5, 2020 Officer Becky Stone interviewed and took Mr. Davidson’s statement  

Mr. Davidson claimed that he recognized the woman who robbed him because they attended the same mental health facility, Saints Medical Center, and that he knew her name because “…they would call it out.  It’s “Sally Robbins or Robinson.”  Along with that name, he also provided Officer Stone the alleged robber’s height, weight, age, treating doctor, and eye color.

Later that month, Mr. Davidson was admitted to a psychiatric unit where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and treated until his release on July 16, 2020.  While hospitalized, he met his current girlfriend, Kim Wilson a fellow patient with a history of drug and alcohol abuse.  On August 17, 2020, Mr. Davidson, and Kim Wilson got into a fist fight with “Sally Robbins or Robinson” at a local bar.  The police were called but were unable to apprehend Robbins/Robinson; however, Mr. Davidson claimed to have secured the plate number from Robbins/Robinson’s vehicle, which Officer Stone then ran with negative results.

On September 15, 2020, Mr. Davidson and his girlfriend made it to the Detective Unit to view photos to look for the assailant.  Officer Stone showed them a computer photo array of all Robbin’s and Robinson’s in the police database, eight pictures total.  Mr. Davidson pointed to a picture and said, “that’s her.”  Officer Stone printed the photos without asking, “Are you positive?”  Ms. Wilson then viewed the same photos and said, “That resembles her smug smile.”  Both Davidson and Wilson signed the photo without being told that the person in the photo would be arrested.  

On September 18, 2020, the positive photo ID by the victim and his girlfriend was the basis for Officer Stone’s probable cause to have an arrest warrant lodged against Mary Robbins, the individual in the photo.  The Affidavit of Probable Cause contains a “positive” identification by Davidson but not a “positive” identification by Kim Wilson. 

Mary Robbins was arrested and charged with robbery on September 30, 2020.  That afternoon, members of City Police Department converged on her in public, exhibited guns, forced her to the ground, handcuffed her behind her back, and advised her that she was under arrest.  Robbins was embarrassed because she was arrested in front of several neighbors and was transported to the City Police Department where she was processed.

After arraignment, Ms. Robbins was imprisoned for 30 days in the City’s holding facility awaiting trial as no one in her wealthy family would bail her out.  During this time, she was incarcerated in a section of the prison designated for the most violent offenders where she was continually terrorized, ridiculed, and tormented by other inmates. 

Suspecting a potential problem with Mr. Davidson’s testimony, Assistant District Attorney Canton wanted a line-up because during a phone interview, Mr. Davidson denied making a “positive identification” and told Officer Stone, “That looks like her.” Two days later, at a lineup identification at the prison, Mr. Davidson failed to identify Ms. Robbins as his assailant and screamed, “She is still out there (meaning on the street).”

The City District Attorney’s Office subsequently withdrew prosecution against Mary Robbins.


To recover under State Ordinance 21 S.O. § 4578, plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the arrest/prosecution were illegal and that the arresting officer did not have probable cause to arrest him/her at the time of the arrest.   

According to Jones v. State, 192 State Rptr. 534 (1993), the arrest of a person mistakenly believed to be another is valid under the Constitution if the arresting officer (1) had probable cause to arrest the person sought and (2) reasonably believed that the person arrested was the person sought.  Once a police officer discovers sufficient facts to establish probable cause, the officer has no constitutional duty to further investigate or find exculpatory evidence. 

In Com. v  Hanson, 241 St. Misc. 503 (1995), in February of 1991, a businessmen, Mr. Cann, was assaulted and robbed while he was attempting to deposit approximately $12,000.00 in cash and checks at the Bank on Cherry Street in City. That evening Mr. Cann examined police “mug books,” but he could not positively identify the perpetrator. In March of 1991, Mr. Cann was shown an additional array of photographs and positively identified defendant Hanson. Based on this identification an arrest warrant was obtained for Hanson who was then charged with the crime. The court denied a motion to suppress the photo identification, finding that the pretrial photo identification was not suggestive, and none of defendant’s “constitutional rights were abridged incident to that identification which provided probable cause for his arrest.”

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