Ham v. Greene

In Ham v. Greene, 248 Conn. 508, 729 A.2d 740, cert. denied, 528 U.S. 929 (1999) the Court addressed the issue of qualified immunity and whether information excluded from an arrest warrant application was material or extraneous. See Ham v. Greene, supra, 248 Conn. at 520-21. The plaintiff in Ham sued police officers after they executed an arrest warrant for him in connection with a fatal shooting. The defendants allegedly had omitted several portions of witnesses' statements, including physical descriptions of the alleged shooter that conflicted with the plaintiff's physical characteristics and conflicting statements by a witness as to the plaintiff's location in or outside a vehicle when the shooting took place. Id., 248 Conn. at 515-16. The arrest warrant application also failed to mention previous statements that did not identify the plaintiff as the shooter given by a witness who later incriminated the plaintiff. Id. Further, the application did not mention that another person had boasted to inmates that he was responsible for the shooting and that he had provided "details about the incident and its victims." Id. at 516. The Ham court was asked to determine if the trial court improperly had failed to grant a motion for a directed verdict in favor of the defendants in that case on the issue of qualified immunity. Id. at 519. "A subjective inquiry into an official's personal belief is rejected in favor of an objective analysis of what a reasonable officer in the defendant's position would believe. In the context of an allegedly unconstitutional arrest, the objective reasonableness standard bars the defense of qualified immunity only where the warrant application is so lacking in indicia of probable cause as to render official belief in its existence unreasonable." Id. at 520.