David Marshall, an African-American sergeant in the Detroit Police Department was pulled over by officers from another police department for a traffic violation. The officers ordered Marshall, who was still in full uniform, to remove his service weapon. After Marshall refused, the local officers tasered Marshall and arrested him. The prosecutor offered to dismiss the charges against Marshall if he would agree to release any civil claims against the department. Before the state judge, Marshall agreed to this arrangement if two pre-conditions were met. Later, the state court judge dismissed the criminal charges and held the parties bound to the agreement even though the prosecutor admitted the pre-conditions had not been fulfilled. When Marshall brought a federal civil rights suit against the department, the department argued that his claims were barred under Michigan’s law of collateral estoppel by the state court’s order. The district court agreed and dismissed the case. The Sixth Circuit reversed, holding that Michigan law wouldn’t bar the civil rights suit because the state court judge hadn’t applied the correct legal standard: whether Marshall voluntarily entered the agreement, whether there was substantial prosecutorial and police misconduct, and whether the public interest weighed in favor of enforcing the agreement.
The City then sought review in the Supreme Court, and Public Citizen Litigation Group took the lead in drafting the opposition. The Court denied the petition.