Circuit courts disagree on whether participation in a pretrial diversion program counts as a favorable termination of the conviction or sentence such that a § 1983 action challenging the conviction can proceed. Following the Introduction, Part II of this Note gives an overview of federal and state pretrial diversion programs. Part III explores the statutory and doctrinal background of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, including its interaction with another civil rights statute, 28 U.S.C. § 2254, the federal habeas statute. Both statutes are essential to understanding the Heck v. Humphrey doctrine’s purpose and application to pretrial diversion participants. Part III also explores the development and interpretation of the Heck doctrine in four Supreme Court cases. Part IV discusses the circuit split as it currently stands. Part V presents three proposals for resolving the split and analyzes how closely the proposals adhere to the original purpose of § 1983 as well as the potential implications of these proposals on policy concerns. This Note concludes by suggesting that the Court revisit the issue presented by the Heck circuit split and clarify that challenges to allegedly unconstitutional investigatory practices should never be barred by Heck.
January 6, 2020