ACLU of Louisiana Responds to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Decision in Brown v. Pouncy

The court upheld Louisiana’s outlier statute of limitations, holding that Louisianians who are victims of unconstitutional conduct have only one year to file a federal civil rights lawsuit

Affiliate: ACLU of Louisiana
February 20, 2024 8:00 am

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ACLU of Louisiana
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NEW ORLEANS —The ACLU of Louisiana has released the following statement after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision to dismiss a Section 1983 action brought against DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies by Mr. Jarius Brown—a Black man who was unlawfully beaten by officers who were later criminally charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for their actions.

The United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana had dismissed Mr. Brown’s action against Defendants Javarrea Pouncy, John Doe #1, and John Doe #2 as time-barred under Louisiana’s one-year residual statute of limitations. On appeal, Mr. Brown argued that the District Court erred in applying this one-year limitation to his Section 1983 claim.

The Fifth Circuit agreed with the lower court, dismissing Mr. Brown’s lawsuit. The court did not foreclose a solution to this enduring problem for Louisiana, stating in its decision that only the U.S. Supreme Court “can clarify how lower courts should evaluate practical frustration” of a victim’s Section 1983 claim.

“It is shameful that victims of civil rights violations have no practical recourse against their abusers under civil rights laws that would apply differently had they been a citizen of any state other than Louisiana, Tennessee or Kentucky. The ACLU of Louisiana will continue to challenge the one-year statute of limitations and plans on taking this very issue up to the Supreme Court of the United States.

The court points out that the Louisiana Legislature is free to act and extend its one-year statute of limitations—and it should. But Congress is also free to solve this problem by creating a uniform statute of limitations for Section 1983 claims, such that all victims of civil rights abuses, regardless of location, will have sufficient time to seek redress in federal court. Therefore, while we will continue to fight this issue in the courts, we call on the Louisiana Legislature and Congress to act now.”

Both deputies involved in the incident were charged federally for their conduct, and one, Demarkes Grant, pled guilty – the sentencing for which has been scheduled for March 28, 2024 at 2:30 PM in the Tom Stagg United States Courthouse in Shreveport, Louisiana.

View full decision from the Fifth Circuit Court.

View a recent op-ed by the ACLU of Louisiana’s legal director, Nora Ahmed:

View the full statement on the ACLU of Louisiana’s website:

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