Police Qualified Immunity

Pertinacious Tom

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Police Used an Unconstitutional Law to Arrest a Citizen-Journalist, and a Texas Court Let Them Off the Hook



The article neglects to mention whether she flies a pink flag from her truck.

5th Circuit reversed qualified impunity for blogger in pajamas



Questioning cops is misusing official information in the wacky world of qualified impunity. I'm glad the 5th circuit put an end to it in this case, but the fact that it's a question at all is disturbing.
Noted pajama blogger Priscilla Villareal is back in trouble

It has been five years since police in Laredo, Texas, mocked and jeered at Priscilla Villarreal, a local journalist often critical of cops, as she stood in the Webb County Jail while they booked her on felony charges. Her crime: asking the government questions.

That may seem like a relatively obvious violation of the First Amendment. Yet perhaps more fraught is that, after all this time, the federal courts have still not been able to reach a consensus on that question. Over the years, judges in the 5th Circuit have ping-ponged back and forth over whether jailing a journalist for doing journalism does, in fact, plainly infringe on her free speech rights.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas awarded those officers qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that allows state and local government officials to violate your constitutional rights without having to face federal civil suits if that violation has not been "clearly established" in case law. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit forcefully overturned that: "If [this] is not an obvious violation of the Constitution, it's hard to imagine what would be," wrote Judge James C. Ho.

Last week, the full spate of judges on the 5th Circuit voted to rehear the case in a rare move that signals some discontent with Ho's majority conclusion. Put differently, it's not looking good for Villarreal, nor for any journalist in the 5th Circuit who would like to do their job without fear of going to jail for it.
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Asking the questions wasn't the real problem. It was publishing their answers that was a felony.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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And in "careful what you say about cops" news,

Arrested for Making a Joke About COVID-19 and Zombies, Louisiana Man Appeals Civil Rights Lawsuit

When Waylon Bailey posted a joke comparing the COVID-19 pandemic to a zombie apocalypse, his Facebook friends got it. His post, using over the top language, emoji and a hashtag referencing the Brad Pitt movie World War Z, warned that the local sheriff’s office had been ordered to shoot the “infected.” But sheriff’s deputies decided to arrest Waylon, without a warrant, under an anti-terrorism law and sent a SWAT team with guns drawn to his garage.


Waylon was taken to jail and booked, but the absurd charge was dropped when a prosecutor reviewed the case. The arrest was plainly an overreaction and trampled Waylon’s free speech rights, but when Waylon brought a civil-rights lawsuit, the deputy responsible for the arrest was granted qualified immunity. To add insult to injury, the court also said that Waylon didn’t have any free speech rights to make a joke in the first place. Now, Waylon is appealing this decision with the help of the Institute for Justice (IJ), which defends Kochy nutjobs nationwide.


“The First Amendment protects your right to tell jokes, even if you upset the government,” said IJ Nutjob Ben Field. “Officials need to be held responsible for how they treated Waylon. His arrest was unnecessary, dangerous and a violation of his First Amendment rights.”

...

As you might expect, I'm in support of Kochy nutjobs yet again. And yet again, I expect no explanation of why they're wrong, just maybe a few more messenger attacks.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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Kochy nutjobs fighting judicial impunity

"Judicial immunity" is another invented doctrine much like qualified immunity, but for judges. At least when they're acting like judges. How about when they're acting like cops, as engineers sometimes do?

Today, the Institute for Justice (IJ) teamed up with a West Virginia man whose rights were violated by a Raleigh County family court judge. IJ and Matthew Gibson are urging the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a lower court’s ruling that Judge Louise Goldston was not entitled to judicial immunity after she abruptly halted a court hearing, ordered everyone present to go to Matthew’s house, searched through his belongings without a warrant, and threatened to arrest him when he began recording the encounter.

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As the search party progressed, Matthew’s ex-wife claimed several items in the home belonged to her. Each time she did so, Judge Goldston ordered her to take them, even though some of them actually belonged to Matthew or his kids.

While Matthew’s ex-wife grabbed the possessions, Judge Goldston made herself at home, walking barefoot through the house and lounging in Matthew’s rocking chair. Matthew and his girlfriend attempted to record the encounter, but Judge Goldston threatened him with arrest and ordered one of the bailiffs to seize his phone.

“It was incredibly frustrating to have my rights and my privacy violated that day,” Matthew said. “This lawsuit is about standing up for my rights and ensuring other people have a way to get justice when their rights are violated.”

Judge Goldston’s actions were so far out of bounds that they received widespread condemnation. She was charged with multiple ethics violations, censured, and fined. The West Virginia High Court even condemned her actions as unbecoming of a judge.

“When a judge acts like a police officer and leads a search party, that threatens the neutrality of the judicial process and chips away at a bedrock American principle: the separation of powers,” said IJ Attorney Anya Bidwell. “Judges don’t get to act like police simply because they think they can do a better job.”
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It's unfortunate that Matthew Gibson can't find credible representation, but I wish him well anyway.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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I suspect there's more to this story

Today, the Institute for Justice (IJ) submitted an amicus brief in a case before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking to reverse a lower court’s decision to shield a police officer from trial after he pointed a loaded gun at a compliant driver during a routine traffic stop. That decision, IJ argues, is emblematic of qualified immunity’s unjustified expansion and its threat to everyone’s efforts to hold officers accountable for Fourth Amendment violations.

On January 28, 2019, James Cerisier was driving to his job as a public school teacher when he changed his mind on the route he wanted to take, because of city traffic. Cerisier was approaching a fork on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, put on his turn signal, and crossed a double solid line to head toward the Brooklyn Bridge, instead of continuing along the expressway. Police officer Saurabh Shah was outside his vehicle after conducting another traffic stop when he noticed Cerisier crossing the double line. Shah signaled for Cerisier to pull over. Then, after Cerisier had already stopped, Shah drew his loaded weapon and pointed it at Cerisier’s windshield for approximately 10 seconds. Ultimately, Shah let Cerisier off with a warning.

“Any reasonable person would acknowledge that pointing a loaded gun at someone who poses no threat to you is excessive,” said Kochy Nutjob Jaba Tsitsuashvili.
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Shah disputes whether Cersier was threatening or not.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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In qualified impunity news, Family Asks Supreme Court to Hold CPS Officer Accountable for Retaliatory Investigation

The case before the court started with a tragedy.

In May 2018, a family’s 15-year-old son was sexually abused by a Scott County, Missouri, sheriff’s deputy. After the deputy was arrested and charged, the family threatened to sue the county for allowing the deputy—who had been disciplined in previous law enforcement jobs—to serve on the force.

Then, a few weeks later, the family heard a knock at their front door and found a juvenile officer and two highway patrol troopers accompanying a child-welfare investigator from the Scott County Children’s Division. The child-welfare investigator informed the parents that they were being formally investigated for child neglect, claiming that an anonymous source called the state’s child abuse tipline and reported the family.
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The parents challenged the preliminary findings and won. Missouri’s Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board found that the investigator’s findings of neglect were unsubstantiated and a separate review by a county juvenile officer found no evidence of parental neglect.

For nine months, the family lived under a cloud of uncertainty and frustration. When they were finally exonerated, and settled with the county out of court, they sued the investigator in federal court, arguing that she’d unconstitutionally retaliated against them after they criticized the county.

In her defense, the investigator argued, predictably, that she was protected by the controversial doctrine of “qualified immunity,” which gives government officials a blank check to violate the Constitution, unless there is a case in their jurisdiction that already declared identical actions to be unconstitutional. But the district court disagreed and denied qualified immunity to the investigator. In the court’s view, the Constitution did not allow the investigator “to make findings of child neglect in retaliation for parents making claims against county officials related to the sexual abuse of their child.”

The investigator appealed and the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court and gave the investigator immunity. The three-judge panel found that “[e]ven assuming that the facts in the complaint are true,” the court has “never recognized a retaliatory-investigation claim of this kind.” In other words, according to the court, there is no such thing as a constitutional protection from retaliatory investigation.

That’s the question this case poses to the U.S. Supreme Court: Does the Constitution protect Americans from unwarranted, retaliatory investigations that punish people for their speech?

“If there are no constitutional checks on investigations, then they could become a default form for the government to punish its critics,” said Kochy Nutjob Christie Hebert.
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Sickening.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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This Mom Was Jailed for Leaving Her Teen Home Alone. Now, She's Suing.

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Potentially problematic for the McMurrys is that not everyone agrees there was a relevant, identical precedent on the books to avail them. But problematic for Officer Brunner, whose case was the only one before the court this time, is that his actions were so egregious that the McMurrys didn't necessarily need applicable case law. It should've been that obvious to him that what he was doing was unlawful.

"Weaver performed an illegal search in front of her supervisor (Brunner). And instead of settling for one constitutional violation (the search), Brunner went on to commit two more (unlawfully seizing JM and violating the McMurrys' due-process rights)," wrote Judge Andrew Oldham of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in a concurring opinion. "After taking custody of JM, Brunner prevented [Jade] from talking to her father and the Vallejos for a significant amount of time. All while [Jade] was crying and confused. Then CPS told Brunner that his safety concerns were baseless. And still, inexplicably, Brunner persisted and pushed for criminal charges against Mrs. McMurry."

Quite the saga. Recourse for the McMurrys is still not a given; defeating qualified immunity merely gives them the opportunity to state their case before a jury. The family may be in luck, however, if it's anything like the jury at McMurry's criminal trial, who will likely hear not only about Brunner's and Weaver's misconduct, but also the harms McMurry suffered as a result: a lost job, a day in jail, and the trauma around that—all for daring to leave a teenager by herself.

A teen and a 12 year old, but they were in the care of neighbors. Who, for some reason not explained in the article, called a cop to give a kid a ride.

This turned out to be a bad idea for everyone involved but it's also kind of inexplicable.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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Absolute Immunity Puts Prosecutors Above the Law

When a storm flooded Baton Rouge in 2016, Priscilla Lefebure took shelter with her cousin and her cousin's husband, Barrett Boeker, an assistant warden at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. During her stay at her cousin's house on the prison grounds, Lefebure later reported, Boeker raped her twice—first in front of a mirror so she would have to watch, and again days later with a foreign object.


Lefebure's allegations led to a yearslong court battle—not against her accused rapist but against District Attorney Samuel C. D'Aquilla, who seemed determined to make sure that Boeker was never indicted. As the chief prosecutor for West Feliciana Parish, which includes Angola, D'Aquilla sabotaged the case before it began.


When a grand jury considered Lefebure's charges, D'Aquilla declined to present the results of a medical exam that found bruises, redness, and irritation on Lefebure's legs, arms, and cervix. Instead, he offered a police report with his own handwritten notes, which aimed to highlight discrepancies in her story. D'Aquilla opted not to call as witnesses the two investigators on the case, the nurse who took Lefebure's rape kit, or the coroner who stored it. And he refused to meet or speak with Lefebure at all, telling local news outlets he was "uncomfortable" doing so.

The lawyer that Boeker hired to represent him was a cousin of the district attorney, Cy Jerome D'Aquila (who spells his name slightly differently). Boeker did not need his services very long, since the grand jury predictably declined to indict him.

After that fiasco, Lefebure sued Samuel D'Aquilla in federal court, saying Boeker falsely claimed his encounters with her were consensual and sought D'Aquilla's assistance in blocking rape charges. According to the lawsuit, D'Aquilla was happy to help. Lefebure accused D'Aquilla of violating her rights to equal protection and due process by deliberately crippling her case against Boeker.

Such lawsuits typically are doomed from the start, because prosecutors enjoy absolute immunity for actions they take in the course of their prosecutorial duties. That means victims of prosecutorial malfeasance cannot seek damages even for blatant constitutional violations. When district attorneys falsify evidence, knowingly introduce perjured testimony, coerce witnesses, or hide exculpatory information from the defense, their victims generally have no legal recourse. And although such misconduct theoretically can trigger professional disciplinary action, including disbarment, that rarely happens.

While debates about criminal justice reform tend to fracture along political lines, prosecutorial immunity need not be a partisan issue. One of Lefebure's attorneys, Jack Rutherford, is a prominent transgender lawyer with progressive political commitments. Her other attorney, prior to his death in September, was Ken Starr, the Republican whose investigation led to former President Bill Clinton's impeachment. When the government appealed a federal judge's decision in Lefebure's favor, the American Conservative Union, the group that puts on the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, filed a brief on her behalf, as did several victim advocacy groups.

The members of this unlikely coalition may not see eye to eye on much, but they agree that government officials should not have carte blanche to abuse their powers.

...

Federal courts often concede that officials have violated the Constitution while in the next breath shielding them from facing a jury, saying that is what judicially constructed immunity doctrines demand. "Congress decides what our laws shall be," Ho noted in Wearry v. Foster. "Congress can abolish qualified immunity, absolute prosecutorial immunity, and Monell. And it can do so anytime it wants to."

Until that happens, it is unlikely much will change. If Lefebure's case is any indication, the Court is not inclined to revisit these precedents, even though it created this problem to begin with.

For now, accountability for the most powerful government actors will continue to be the exception. Ralph Petty, the moonlighting court clerk, was disbarred in 2021, two years after he retired in style. Linda Allen, the prosecutor in San Francisco, lost her job there in 2020 but was promptly hired by neighboring Santa Clara County. Samuel D'Aquilla still works in the same judicial district.

Boeker, the assistant prison warden at Angola, kept his job for nearly four years years after Lefebure accused him of raping her. He ultimately got the boot in May 2020, shortly before he was arrested on felony charges—not for the alleged rapes, but for assaulting an inmate with a fire extinguisher.

Kind of a long article with a few stories of abuse of power that ended up being rewarded.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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Lombardo v. City of St. Louis, Missouri

Issue: Whether, when officers put a handcuffed and shackled person face-down on the floor and pushed into his back until he died, they are they entitled to qualified immunity as a matter of law because the person struggled to breathe before dying.

Coverage under Petitions of the Week at SCOTUSBlog

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Gilbert’s parents appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled for them in part. The “objectively unreasonable” test for excessive force is contextual and fact-specific, the justices held. They sent the case back with instructions to consider a few significant facts: that police had already handcuffed Gilbert’s arms and shackled his legs before restraining him, that they knelt on him for so long, and that they chose the prone restraint despite city and nationwide guidance against its use on someone in handcuffs because of the risk of suffocation.


On remand, the 8th Circuit again ruled for the officers. Rather than perform the requested factual analysis, the court granted the officers qualified immunity because – in light of a newer circuit ruling and the “lack of robust consensus” to the contrary – it found there was no clearly established constitutional right for a person resisting police restraint to be free of force against their back.


In Lombardo v. City of St. Louis, Missouri, Gilbert’s parents ask the justices to take up their son’s case once more. They argue that the 8th Circuit defies a mounting consensus among other circuits that similar police force is excessive in violation of a clearly established right. A decision from the Supreme Court would settle not only their son’s case, they insist, but also countless others throughout the 8th Circuit – stretching, they note, from Ferguson, Missouri, to Minneapolis, Minnesota, the hometowns of Michael Brown and George Floyd.

The orchestrated chorus of amici has already started to assemble. A professor/cop who is a use of force expert and some ambulance chasers, so far. But you gotta start somewhere. I expect Kochy nutjobs to join the fray before long.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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Supreme Court Declines to Hear Parents’ Case Against Child Protective Services Investigator for Retaliation Against Their Family

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear a case against a child protective services (CPS) official who abusively investigated a Missouri family. The result of the Court’s decision will serve to embolden CPS and other government officials nationwide to wield retaliatory investigations against average people as punishment for standing up for their rights.


This case started with a tragic incident involving a sexual assault of a minor boy by a sheriff’s deputy for Scott County, Missouri. The incident happened while the officer was on duty, so the parents (who are going by their initials in this case to maintain their son’s privacy) threatened to take legal action against the sheriff’s department. After all, it was known to the department that the deputy had been disciplined in previous law enforcement jobs. In response, the local child protective services investigator—who has worked with the department—opened a retaliatory investigation into the parents for child neglect. She claimed that the parents were the ones to blame for letting their son be sexually abused.


What followed was a nightmare for the family, involving multiple interviews of the already traumatized boy, a referral to a clinic for an inspection of the boy’s genitals and rectum, and a threat to take away the father’s law-enforcement license. The investigator only backed off from harassing the family after the family found pro bono lawyers to help them defend their rights. These lawyers helped the family appeal the investigator’s findings of child neglect, which were quickly overturned by the review board based on the lack of evidence.


Once the parents cleared their names, they sued the investigator for violating their First Amendment rights. The district court agreed with their claim and denied the investigator her defense of qualified immunity. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, however, writing that “[e]ven assuming that the facts in the complaint are true,” there is no such thing as retaliatory investigation claims in the Eighth Circuit. In other words, the court gave a blank check to government officials to punish individuals by investigating them.


By refusing to grant the parents’ petition for certiorari, the Supreme Court allowed this decision to stand.


“Government investigations are reputation-damaging, stressful and costly,” said Anya Bidwell, a nutjob for the Institute for Justice, which represented the parents in their appeal to the Supreme Court. “No one should be the victim of retaliation through a governmental investigation just because they seek to vindicate their rights. This is government intimidation and abuse of power at its worst. The Court should have taken the parents’ case and made it clear to all government officials that retaliatory investigations are unconstitutional.”
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I agree with the quoted nutjob, of course, but am also of the opinion that ordering the boy to undergo examination of his penis and asshole should come with some kind of a rape charge for the "investigator" who gave that order only to protect a rapist pedophile cop.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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No Flirting Dot PDF

I wonder who named it that?

Good one.

Congress enacted 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as the vehicle to remedy a state actor’s violation of a person’s federal rights. But even if a state actor violates a person’s rights, we require that the right be clearly established for a plaintiff to prevail. Today we confront whether the law clearly established that Defendant Utah Highway Patrolman Blaine Robbins violated Heather Leyva’s (“Leyva”) Fourteenth and Fourth Amendment rights by pulling her over without reasonable suspicion to do so and by sending her flirtatious texts about the administration of a commercial towing relationship between her employer and the Utah Highway Patrol. In doing so, we consider the unique relationship between Defendant and Leyva in the context of each alleged constitutional violation. The district court found that Defendant did not violate clearly established law. Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.

Spoiler: the flirty cop said that he pulled her over as a joke between friends. The tenth circuit didn't think it was funny.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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Noted pajama blogger Priscilla Villareal is back in trouble



Asking the questions wasn't the real problem. It was publishing their answers that was a felony.
The Fifth Circuit will hear Priscilla Villareal's case en banc today

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In 2017, Villarreal found herself in a jail cell after publishing two stories on her popular Facebook page, Lagordiloca, which as of this writing has attracted 202,000 followers. The first story pertained to a Border Patrol agent who committed suicide; the second revealed the identity of a family involved in a deadly vehicle accident. The stories were standard. But Villarreal had already drawn the ire of the local police department with her reporting, which has included, among other things, a livestream of an officer choking someone at a traffic stop and heavy criticism levied at a local prosecutor.

So the Laredo Police Department (LPD) moved to criminally charge her for that reporting, citing a Texas law that forbids obtaining "nonpublic information" from the government if the person doing so—in this case, Villarreal—has an "intent to benefit." Richly ironic is that it was the LPD that gave her the information she requested. Even more absurd is that her alleged "intent to benefit" in seeking the information was getting more Facebook followers.

It's a logic that would render any sort of journalistic activity illegal, when considering that all media outlets seek out nonpublic information (it's called "reporting") and do so to bring in revenue via subscriptions or social media followers (it's called "a business").

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For jailing Villarreal, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas gave the Laredo police qualified immunity. In other words, they concluded it was not "clearly established" that jailing a journalist for journalism is a violation of the Constitution, despite the fact that we'd likely expect a middle schooler taking eighth-grade civics to come to the opposite conclusion. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that initial decision. "If [this] is not an obvious violation of the Constitution, it's hard to imagine what would be," wrote Judge James C. Ho.

But a majority of the 16 judges on the 5th Circuit panel agreed to rehear the case en banc, indicating dissatisfaction with Ho's opinion. They will do so tomorrow. For a view into potential reasons for the judges' opposition, we can look to the words Chief Judge Priscilla Richman: "Villareal's [sic] Complaint says that she 'sometimes enjoys a free meal from appreciative readers, . . . occasionally receives fees for promoting a local business [and] has used her Facebook page [where all of her reporting is published] to ask for donations for new equipment necessary to continue her citizen journalism efforts," she wrote in dissent. "With great respect, the majority opinion is off base in holding that no reasonably competent officer could objectively have thought that Villareal [sic] obtained information from her back-door source within the Laredo Police Department with an 'intent to benefit.'"

In other words, the officers' conduct was justifiable because Villarreal sometimes gets free lunch from her readers and viewers. It's the kind of interpretation that would be funny if it weren't published by one of the most influential courts in the nation, written by one of the most powerful jurists alive today. One doubts that Richman, also known for her conservative jurisprudence, would have come to a similar conclusion had she been a bit more ideologically aligned with the plaintiff.

But ADF is not alone in trying to sway Richman et al. from siding with the government. Also writing in support of Villarreal are Project Veritas, the far-right group founded by James O'Keefe; Americans for Prosperity, the conservative-libertarian activist organization; the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank; the Constitutional Accountability Center, a progressive think tank; and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that defends civil liberties in the digital space.

The Venn diagram connecting these groups has very little overlap. To find something they all agree with in the practical sense would be a difficult task. But they can come together on at least one thing, which is that your constitutional right to free speech should not live or die based on the popularity of what you're saying. This basic principle has been lost on some at the 5th Circuit, though they have a chance to right that wrong tomorrow.

Asking questions and publishing the answers should be legal, even if you intend to benefit by having people read what you publish. Qualified impunity is literally being used to outlaw journalism.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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Mario Rosales and the Road Ragey Deputy

In 2018, Mario Rosales became the victim of a deputy’s road rage. He was driving his yellow Mustang home when he passed Chaves County Sheriff’s Deputy David Bradshaw, who was off-duty and in his personal pickup truck. Bradshaw’s ego did not take kindly to a Mustang passing him, and his notorious temper took off. He followed Mario home, blocked him in the driveway, yelled and cursed at him, and ultimately pointed a gun at him. Bradshaw did all this in shorts and flip-flops, with his small child right next to the pointed gun. Mario was afraid but kept his cool and tried to calm Bradshaw down.


Another deputy who arrived on the scene defused the situation. As a result of the incident, Bradshaw lost his job and was convicted of aggravated assault and child abuse.


To vindicate his constitutional rights, Mario sued Bradshaw and the county sheriff who hired him. Predictably, Bradshaw invoked qualified immunity—a doctrine that the Supreme Court invented in 1982 to protect most government workers from being sued for unconstitutional conduct. Based in part on that doctrine and in part on a supposed technical error in his claims against the government employer, Mario’s case was dismissed from federal court. This, even though the court recognized that Mario’s rights were indeed violated. Mario still could not sue the deputy. Nor could he sue the county sheriff, even though Bradshaw lost a prior law-enforcement job because of similar violent conduct.
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Bradshaw was off duty, in plain clothes, in his own car, and committed aggravated assault but he is immune because he's a cop and we've gotta back the blue.
 

Pertinacious Tom

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Kochy nutjobs fighting judicial impunity

"Judicial immunity" is another invented doctrine much like qualified immunity, but for judges. At least when they're acting like judges. How about when they're acting like cops, as engineers sometimes do?



It's unfortunate that Matthew Gibson can't find credible representation, but I wish him well anyway.

Judge Goldston Retires Amid Impeachment Push; Lawsuit Against Her for Warrantless Search Will Continue

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Goldston was charged with several ethics violations, censured, fined, and condemned by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Matt then brought a federal lawsuit against Goldston for violating his rights. The judge argued that she should be entitled to judicial immunity and that Matt’s claims against her should be thrown out. Judicial immunity is a legal doctrine that shields judicial officials from being held accountable in a lawsuit when they violate people’s rights if those actions were done in a judicial capacity. Thankfully, the district court held that Goldston was not entitled to judicial immunity because judges don’t barge into people’s homes without warrants. Goldston then appealed that decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In November 2022, Matt and IJ teamed up to defend the district court’s decision so Matt can hold Goldston accountable in court. Matt’s victory in this case would send a strong signal that judges are not above the law and can’t count on judicial immunity to shield them from unlawful conduct. “I’m happy that the corrupt judge is stepping down so she can’t violate other people’s rights like she did to me,” said Matt. “But judges aren’t above the law. My case will move forward to ensure that what happened to me does not happen again.”

This case is a part of IJ’s Project on Immunity and Accountability, which fights to ensure that qualified, judicial, and prosecutorial immunities do not prevent individuals from vindicating their rights in court. If citizens must follow the law, government officials must follow the Constitution.

I agree with Matt Gibson that her departure is a good riddance but I'm glad he and Kochy nutjobs are continuing to go after her.
 


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