Discussions of race and criminal convictions became a matter of necessity in 2020 after thousands gathered across the country in anger and protest following the death of George Floyd, many peaceful, others inflamed and dangerous. The Heck doctrine, taken from Heck v. Humphrey, serves to generally bar a collateral attack on a plaintiff’s criminal case unless a conviction has been set aside in some fashion. Although the doctrine is seemingly straightforward, the lower federal courts have grappled with the application of this doctrine, especially when a convict files a civil suit alleging that the conviction is a result of an arrest from racial profiling. The Roberts Court, with its reputation for deftly handling respective matters of race and objective reasonableness of criminal procedure, is uniquely situated to bring closure to this issue during a year in which America’s law enforcement faced targeted assassinations and a frightening record number of line-of-duty deaths for officers.



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