Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Western District of Kentucky at Louisville.
No. 3:16-cv-00119—Gregory N. Stivers, District Judge.
Argued: October 21, 2020
Decided and Filed: January 20, 2021
Before: BATCHELDER, GRIFFIN, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.
MURPHY, Circuit Judge. The demands on government increase the more it intrudes into
its people’s liberty. The government, for example, must meet a lower standard to indict and
No. 20-5011 Lester v. Roberts, et al. Page 2
detain criminal defendants before trial (probable cause) than the standard it must meet to convict
and imprison them after trial (proof beyond a reasonable doubt). See Draper v. United States,
358 U.S. 307, 311–12 (1959). Likewise, the government may use hearsay to establish probable
cause, but must permit defendants to confront the witnesses against them at trial. See id.; U.S.
Const. amend. VI. To protect defendants before trial, therefore, the Framers added other
procedural safeguards, including the right to a speedy trial and against excessive bail. U.S.
Const. amend. VI, VIII. Nevertheless, given the reduced burdens imposed on the government at
this pretrial stage, the Supreme Court has recognized that cases will inevitably arise in which the
government validly establishes the probable cause necessary for a pretrial detention, but later
falls short in proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. See Michigan v. DeFillippo, 443 U.S. 31,
This is one of those cases. A witness told Detective Keith Roberts that her former
boyfriend, Eugene Baker, and one of Baker’s friends whom she knew as “Desean” had robbed
and murdered a competing drug dealer. After this witness identified a photo of the plaintiff,
Duzuan Lester, as the “Desean” who had accompanied Baker to the murder, Kentucky
prosecutors indicted Baker and Lester. When confronted face-to-face with Lester at trial,
however, the witness suggested that Lester did not look like Baker’s accomplice. Finding that
the prosecution had not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury acquitted Lester. He
now claims that Detective Roberts violated the Fourth Amendment and Kentucky tort law by
inadequately investigating the murder before helping initiate the criminal case. Yet the Fourth
Amendment and Kentucky law required only probable cause for Lester’s pretrial detention and
prosecution. And this witness’s earlier identification of Lester—combined with corroborating
evidence like DNA at the scene—sufficed to meet that standard. We thus affirm the grant of
summary judgment to Roberts.