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Monday, September 8, 2014

Video shows NYPD officers beating man during routine noise disturbance call

Salon.com's Johanna Rothkopf notes this local report on a young man in the Bronx who was violently beaten by NYPD officers responding to routine noise disturbance. The video shows the two officers stop-and-frisk the young man. After more officers arrive, it shows them kicking him and hitting him with nightsticks and fists.

NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau is reportedly investigating the incident.

September 8, 2014 in Excessive Force, Stop-and-frisk | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 29, 2014

"Houston Cops Always Justified in Shootings. Always."

The Texas Observer's Emily DePrang writes:

Every shooting by a Houston Police Department officer is investigated by HPD’s Internal Affairs and Homicide divisions. Between 2007 and 2012, according to HPD records, officers killed citizens in 109 shootings. Every killing was ruled justified.

 

The 112 instances of an officer shooting and injuring a person were justified, too.

 

So were the 104 times an officer wounded an animal, and the 225 times an officer killed an animal.

 

There were 16 shootings found “not justified,” but they were all ruled accidental.

 

In more than one in five cases in which officers fired on citizens, the citizen was unarmed.

I suppose it's theoretically possible that every single shooting by a Houston police officer was entirely legit. But I'm skeptical - and a little scared.

DePrang also points out that Houstonians have very little authority to oversee questionable police conduct because the body charged with reviewing Internal Affairs investigations has no enforcement authority. 

August 29, 2014 in Excessive Force | Permalink | Comments (1)

Disturbing video of Minneapolis police harassing, tasing man while he waits to pick up his children from school

Salon.com's Joanna Rothkopf has the story here.

August 29, 2014 in Excessive Force | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

L.A. to pay $5 million in damages for 2013 shooting by LAPD officers

As protests continue in Ferguson, MO over the shooting death of Michael Brown, the L.A. City Council reminds us that the costs of excessive force by police extends beyond the physical and emotional pain such violence causes. Yesterday, by a 12-2 vote, the council approved a $5 million settlement in the civil rights case that followed the 2013 shooting death of Brian Newt Beiard. As The Los Angeles Times reports

The incident began around 9:30 p.m. [on Dec. 13] as a suspected drunk- or reckless-driver pursuit in Cudahy by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies. The LAPD took over the chase when it reached city limits.

 

Beaird was driving erratically and at high speeds on freeways and surface streets. With several LAPD cars following him, he slammed his Corvette into a Nissan crossing the intersection at Olympic Boulevard and Los Angeles Street, sending the Nissan into a fire hydrant.

 

After initially trying to drive his mangled car, Beaird stepped out of the Corvette and staggered to the back of the car, with his hands up at one point and his back to the officers. Within moments, TV footage showed objects — possibly nonlethal rounds — bouncing off Beaird almost in concert with crackling gunfire.

 

Beaird fell to the ground, where he flailed from side to side before lying still as officers approached.

The question, of course, is not whether police were pursuing a criminal--even a potentially violent one. Rather, the question is whether the use of force by police was excessive under the circumstances. The belief that a jury may well have found that the officers' use of force under the above circumstances was excessive compelled the council to agree to the settlement amount.

Councilman Bernard Parks, a former LAPD chief, said that the case was serious enough to warrant such a large payout and that a jury could have awarded far more had the case gone to trial.

 

"This is a case that clearly had significant potential liability far beyond what the settlement offer was," he said. "It was a good business decision when you have a loss of life and you have evidence that could be viewed as overwhelming against the city of L.A."

 

The settlement was approved by a 12-2 vote. Two council members who have served with the LAPD voted against the payout, saying the shooting appeared justified. Councilman Mitchell Englander said the officers could not see the driver's hands when he fell so could not be sure whether he had a weapon.

Beaird's father originally had requested $20 million in damages. 

The $5 million settlement is the largest for a fatal shooting by L.A. police in the last ten years.

August 21, 2014 in Excessive Force | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

'Correctional Officer Excessive Use of Force: Civil Liability Under Section 1983'

The title of this post comes from this intriguing study recently published by the The Prison Journal, the abstract of which states:

Despite recent research demonstrating the impact of inmate perceptions of correctional legitimacy on order maintenance, the extant literature has failed to examine the contextual reality of correctional excessive use of force claims. Utilizing legal cases from the U.S. Court of Appeals and U.S. District Courts, this article examines correctional officer excessive use of non-deadly force and identifies recurring themes in these claims. Findings highlight the common occurrence of retaliatory violence, negative attitudes, failure to listen to inmate concerns, inadequate training, and an inability to decipher reliable threat cues consistently present in correctional officer use of non-deadly force claims. Suggestions for future research and policy implications are offered.

June 19, 2014 in 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Excessive Force, Prisons and Prisoners | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Federal civil rights claims against Philly police continue rise in 2013

The title of this post comes from this notable article by Dana DiFilippo and David Gambacorta in today's Philadelphia Daily News on the nearly sixty percent increase in 2013 in settlement payments to plaintiffs claiming misconduct by Philadelphia police. The extensive article begins:

ImagesOn a warm night in Overbrook, Askia Sabur spotted his cousin outside a Chinese takeout and pedaled his bicycle over to chat.

 

Within minutes, Sabur lay bleeding and barely conscious on the sidewalk, as a crowd of cops - several with long histories of brutality complaints - beat him, opening gashes on his head that would require six staples to close.

 

In West Philadelphia, Stephen Moore was watching TV alone in his bedroom when his home-security system announced his front door was open.

 

Moore went to investigate, only to be pumped full of lead by a cop who started firing after entering the house without saying a word.

 

And in Kensington, police who tried to arrest Kahlif Snowden over a suspected drug sale ended up violating policy by Tasing him in the neck three times until he fell unconscious. He was left in a persistent vegetative state.

 

Sabur, Moore and Snowden were among 128 plaintiffs who received nearly $14 million in settlements from the city last year from civil-rights lawsuits filed against police.

 

That marked a huge jump from the $8.3 million paid out for such suits in 2012, and an even bigger increase from the $4.2 million paid five years earlier. Those figures don't include the millions paid annually to settle lawsuits from police-involved car accidents or labor and employment claims.

Philadelphia is not alone. For example, The Las Vegas Sun also reported on the substantial increase in federal civil rights claims filed against the city's police department, a trend beginning in 2008.

May 29, 2014 in Civil Rights Litigation, Excessive Force | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

After breathalyzer and blood test, man suspected of drunk driving subjected to forced catheterization

In Indiana, 23-year-old William Clark alleges that local police violated his civil rights by subjecting him to forced catheterization after he failed to provide a urine sample on his own. He had been arrested on suspicion of driving drunk. As this local article reports:

PoliceLightsAccording to his lawsuit, Clark submitted to a blood test at the Dyer hospital that showed his blood alcohol was below the legal limit. It states [Officer Matthew] Djukic, however, became impatient with Clark's inability [sic] to provide a urine sample and made an effort to forcibly get the sample. The suit claims Djukic physically restrained Clark while hospital personnel inserted a catheter to extract the fluid.

Clark says the forced catheterization was "painful, degrading and humiliating." Among other things, he alleges that it amounted to excessive force, and he’s seeking more than $10 million in total damages.

Excessive force claims usually are analyzed under the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens’ “persons, houses, papers, and effects” from “unreasonable searches and seizures” by law enforcement. A reasonable search or seizure generally is one supported by a warrant issued by a magistrate, although certain circumstances may justify waiving the requirement. Such is the case when the search is likely to produce evidence of criminality, and when the warrant requirement is impractical.

In Schmerberg v. California, the Supreme Court held that warrantless blood testing for alcohol by law enforcement squares with the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches. Because the body works to eliminate alcohol as soon as drinking stops, the application of the warrant requirement to drunk driving cases would prevent discovery of needed evidence. Blood testing also is “a highly effective” means of determining one’s level of intoxication.

But a prick of the finger is less invasive than catheterization. Blood testing usually requires only the exposure of one’s finger to momentary discomfort. Forced catheterization requires exposing one’s genitals to medical staff so that a tube may be inserted into the urethra, allowing for the collection of urine directly from the bladder. The procedure could last a minute or more. Because some people experience severe pain, local anesthetic is occasionally used. The propriety of the warrantless procedure is also specious given Grant’s submission to both a breathalyzer and a blood test—less invasive, but effective, alternatives to urinalysis.

As one federal judged argued, unlike blood testing, “the Fourth Amendment’s protection of human dignity and privacy might require a warrant at the very least before government officials could compel a citizen to undergo a catheterization.” Officer Djukic didn't have one, and the existence of exigent circumstances justifying forced catheterization is doubtful.

Still, even assuming the validity of Grant’s excessive force claim, Officer Djukic may nevertheless be immune from legal action if a reasonable officer wouldn’t have known the forced catheterization violated Grant’s rights.

(h/t Debra Cassens Weiss at the ABA Journal Blog)

May 13, 2014 in Excessive Force, Fourth Amendment, Search | Permalink | Comments (1)

"Qualified Immunity and Statutory Interpretation"

The title of this post comes from this recent paper, the abstract of which states:

Before the 1989 case of Graham v. Connor, excessive force cases were pursued under either state law or the insuperable “shocks the conscience” test of the Fourteenth Amendment. Only after Graham did excessive force cases — now under the Fourth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 — inundate the federal courts, which had by then granted far-reaching immunities to officers for their constitutional torts. As a result of federal qualified immunity doctrine, which many states have adopted for themselves, excessive force cases rarely get to trial, plaintiffs often cannot recover, and courts struggle to find principled distinctions from one qualified immunity case to the next.

Part II of this Article describes the evolution of this qualified immunity doctrine and demonstrates how common law immunities were traditionally held to have been incorporated into § 1983 by the Congress of 1871 as a matter of statutory interpretation. It claims that only when the Court began hearing federal Bivens actions and created an immunity doctrine untethered from statutory interpretation, the common-law approach was lost and the modern, nearly insurmountable qualified immunity doctrine was adopted. 

Part II thus establishes the historical importance of common-law interpretation to § 1983 suits. Part III then shows how differently excessive force cases would have to be treated were the court to return to the common law interpretive methods in § 1983 cases. At common law, excessive force actions were quite common and more liberal toward plaintiffs seeking redress; officers were expected to pay damages for any unnecessary force; and it was the province of the jury to determine such questions. Parts IV-V then make the theoretical case under both constitutional and statutory interpretation for replacing modern qualified immunity doctrine with a return to its common law variety in excessive-force actions, an approach that would also be far more judicially workable than the current doctrine.

May 13, 2014 in 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Excessive Force | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Qualified Immunity and Statutory Interpretation

The title of this post comes from this recent paper arguing that SCOTUS's decision in Graham v. Connor created a new qualified immunity jurisprudence--a shift from the common-law approach to qualified immunity in excessive force claims to the current federal doctrine, which is substantially less protective of plaintiffs. Specifically, it argues for a return to the former method. Here's the abstract:

Before the 1989 case of Graham v. Connor, excessive force cases were pursued under either state law or the insuperable “shocks the conscience” test of the Fourteenth Amendment. Only after Graham did excessive force cases — now under the Fourth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 — inundate the federal courts, which had by then granted far-reaching immunities to officers for their constitutional torts. As a result of federal qualified immunity doctrine, which many states have adopted for themselves, excessive force cases rarely get to trial, plaintiffs often cannot recover, and courts struggle to find principled distinctions from one qualified immunity case to the next.

Part II of this Article describes the evolution of this qualified immunity doctrine and demonstrates how common law immunities were traditionally held to have been incorporated into § 1983 by the Congress of 1871 as a matter of statutory interpretation. It claims that only when the Court began hearing federal Bivens actions and created an immunity doctrine untethered from statutory interpretation, the common-law approach was lost and the modern, nearly insurmountable qualified immunity doctrine was adopted. 

Part II thus establishes the historical importance of common-law interpretation to § 1983 suits. Part III then shows how differently excessive force cases would have to be treated were the court to return to the common law interpretive methods in § 1983 cases. At common law, excessive force actions were quite common and more liberal toward plaintiffs seeking redress; officers were expected to pay damages for any unnecessary force; and it was the province of the jury to determine such questions. Parts IV-V then make the theoretical case under both constitutional and statutory interpretation for replacing modern qualified immunity doctrine with a return to its common law variety in excessive-force actions, an approach that would also be far more judicially workable than the current doctrine.

CRL&P related posts:

February 24, 2014 in 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Excessive Force | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Civil rights groups want Texas schools rid of pepper spray and Tasers

The Texas Observer reports that several groups want schools to eliminate the use of Tasers and pepper spray on students, which seems like an entirely reasonable request. Since 2001, more than 500 people have died after having been tased. The Observer article states:

Last week, a group of civil rights organizations including the ACLU and the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition called on Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams to ban the use of Tasers and pepper spray on schoolchildren, citing the recent severe injury of a Cedar Creek High teen as an example of the devices’ potential to inflict serious damage.

 

Within the Texas juvenile justice system, guards are banned from using Tasers on young offenders. But in public schools, “resource officers” are allowed to use the devices—along with pepper spray—at the discretion of local school boards.

 

PepperSprayIotacon“Texas families deserve to send their children to school without fear, knowing they can trust their schools to be safe havens,” the letter reads. “Emitting a shock of up to 50,000 volts, Tasers are designed to restrain adults. They simply should not be used on children.”

 

Williams’ office responded Thursday that it doesn’t have the “statutory authorization” to impose a ban on the weapons, noting that the authority lies with local school districts and charter school boards.

 

“That is a conversation that has to take place among local elected officials,” he said in a statement.

 

Last year the same coalition of civil rights groups called on the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to enact a ban on the “non-lethal” devices, and were met with a similar response. Commission officials, however, vowed to work with the criminal justice groups in providing specialized curriculum for school police officers. TCLOSE only requires school security to meet the “minimum standards” of peace officers as established by the Texas Education Code—generalized training that is not specific to dealing with minors.

 

John Helenberg, director of operations at the law enforcement commission, said the agency is forming an independent committee of “experts across the state from various law enforcement agencies,” to take a closer look at how peace officers should use force in schools. That review will begin in March, Helenberg said.

 

Texas Appleseed and the ACLU examined the policies of 18 school districts in the state which volunteered to supply data; the use of pepper spray was prevalent throughout. The 2011 ACLU study also revealed the use of other weapons among the school districts: Killeen ISD listed police batons as one option; El Paso ISD reported using police dogs. Two Houston school districts recently began using “pepper guns,” which are more accurate than pepper spray.

 

The tactics used to restrain students are also determined independently by each school district and vary widely. Austin ISD officers use “soft empty-hand control” techniques when a student doesn’t respond to two verbal warnings, whereas Tyler ISD officers report using pepper spray after the student’s third failure to comply.

 

In 2009, several Hillcrest High students in Dallas were given medical treatment for exposure after an officer used pepper spray to break up a fight. Despite these injuries, information on force used against students and the types of implements officers wield is difficult to obtain because there are no legislative mandates requiring schools to report that data to the state. A Taser International spokesman told the Los Angeles Times in a 2009 article that “‘well over 4,000” law enforcement agencies nationwide use their product in schools.

CRL&P related posts:

February 18, 2014 in Excessive Force, Schools | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Excessive force claims under Fourth Amendment less protective when police use tasers?

In Shocking the Conscience: What Police Tasers and Weapon Technology Reveal about Excessive Force LawAaron Sussman argues that excessive force jurisprudence under the Fourth Amendment has tended towards providing less protection for citizens who make excessive force claims against 
Taserpolice who have used tasers during an arrest. For such cases, Sussman prescribes a re-commitment to "the balancing standard" articulated by the Supreme Court in Graham v. Conner, 490 U.S. 386 (1989); and, (2) a more "reality-based approach" to qualified immunity claims. 

The Fourth Amendment protects "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons... against unreasonable searches and seizures[.]" According to the Graham Court, excessive force claims fall under the Fourth Amendment's protection against "unreasonable...seizures." Id. at 395.  Whether the use of a taser is "unreasonable" requires balancing "the nature and quality of the intrusion on the individual's Fourth Amendment interests [on account of being tased] against the countervailing governmental interests at stake." Id. at 396. (Internal quotations omitted). This inquiry "depends not only on when [a seizure] is made, but also on how it is carried out." Importantly, the Graham Court wrote: 

The "reasonableness" of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene...With respect to a claim of excessive force, the same standard of reasonableness at the moment applies: Not every push or shove, even if it may later seem unnecessary in the peace of a judge's chambers, violates the Fourth Amendment. The calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments—in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving—about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.

 

As in other Fourth Amendment contexts, however, the "reasonableness" inquiry in an excessive force case is an objective one: the question is whether the officers' actions are "objectively reasonable" in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation. An officer's evil intentions will not make a Fourth Amendment violation out of an objectively reasonable use of force; nor will an officer's good intentions make an objectively unreasonable use of force constitutional. Id. at 396-97. (Internal citations and quotations omitted).

Susmann claims courts have demonstrated little actual fidelity to the Graham balancing test. "Courts are likely to misjudge both the individual’s and the government’s interests in taser cases," he writes, "because these cases involve poorly understood technology and less serious observable injury." He later adds,

Courts do not serve the mandates of Graham when they fail to acquire a sufficient understanding of what tasers actually do or of what is still unknown about what they do. In addition to obtaining an understanding of the use of force before deciding whether its use was reasonable, courts should presume that it would be unreasonable for officers to deploy a weapon without understanding its effects. Similarly, neither Graham nor fundamental Fourth Amendment principles are served by discounting plaintiffs’ experience of pain, emotional distress, and fear. Doing so will effectively turn weapons designed to inflict severe pain while minimizing tissue damage into tools for avoiding legal liability, a role they may already play given developments in qualified immunity doctrine.

Qualified immunity protects individual police officers from lawsuits arising from their actions in furtherance of an unconstitutional law or policy. According to Sussman, "Qualified immunity substantially advantages defendant police officers. The doctrine helps courts justify grants of summary judgment and provides defendants two opportunities to escape liability, both entailing their own pro-defendant" biases.

Here's the abstract to Shocking the Conscience:

Since Graham v. Connor, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1989 opinion establishing the Fourth Amendment standard for assessing whether a police officer’s use of force was unconstitutionally excessive, the law has slowly developed through a body of narrow and fact-specific precedents that guide judges’ excessive force and qualified immunity analyses. Recently, the Ninth Circuit — the source of many of the most influential excessive force opinions — decided three contentious cases regarding when an officer’s use of a taser is unconstitutional. On one view, these cases raise novel questions about how to apply the Fourth Amendment standard for nontraditional and technologically advanced uses of force. In this Comment, however, I argue that these cases predominantly present issues that pervade all excessive force jurisprudence and illuminate judicial trends and tendencies disadvantaging plaintiffs while advantaging defendant officers. In light of this understanding, my proposal is not for new rules or standards in taser cases. Rather, I suggest that courts, first, faithfully apply Graham’s standard of balancing the nature and quality of the Fourth Amendment intrusion against the government’s interest in the officer’s use of force and, second, employ a reality-based approach in deciding whether the officer is entitled to qualified immunity. For courts to do this, excessive force jurisprudence must evolve to match the development of police weapons technology. That evolution includes fully understanding and considering the distinctive effects and risks posed by tasers and presuming that a reasonable police officer would have done the same.

Relatedly on CRL&P: 

January 24, 2014 in 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Excessive Force, Fourth Amendment | Permalink | Comments (1)

Don’t Daze, Phase, or Lase Me, Bro! Fourth Amendment Excessive-Force Claims, Future Nonlethal Weapons, and Why Requiring an Injury Cannot Withstand a Constitutional or Practical Challenge

The title of this post comes from this paper by Professor Douglas McKechnie discussing excessive force under the Fourth Amendment. Here's the abstract:

This article suggests that requiring an injury in a Fourth Amendment excessive force claim is neither constitutional nor practical. The article has two components. First, it examines the requirement that an arrestee allege an injury to have a valid Fourth Amendment excessive force claim. The article explores the de minimis injury exception’s genesis in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence and discusses whether and how the circuit and district courts have implemented an injury requirement. The article demonstrates that an injury requirement in some circuits has created contradictory and confusing tests and exceptions. It then argues why an injury requirement is not supported by the Supreme Court’s seminal Fourth Amendment excessive force case. Second, the article discusses the technology of future non-lethal weapons as well as the physical and psychological impact on the weapons’ targets. The article posits that a de minimis injury exception to Fourth Amendment excessive force claims is impractical in light of the deceptively minimal harm these non-lethal weapons will cause.

January 24, 2014 in 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Excessive Force, Fourth Amendment | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Lawsuit: Police K-9 ordered to attack handcuffed man

The title of this post comes from this article about an Indiana man's federal lawsuit alleging civil rights violations by the sheriff's office during this regrettable K-9 incident: 

Biting_Dog_webCook admits he was hiding out in an attic as police stormed into his home, when Wayne County sheriff's deputy Ronald Lindley sent his K-9 named "Larry" in to find him.

 

In his lawsuit, Cook claims he remained silent as police scoured the home, but when the K-9 peered into the attic, Cook said he quietly spoke out with the words, "Please don't bite me," and then something to the effect of, "I like dogs."

 

Cook claims the dog began barking when Deputy Lindley gave a command, so he then blurted out, "Get that dog out of here."

 

Cook said the K-9 was then released into the attic, where it bit him and then ended up dragging him by the arm toward a group of officers.

 

He said Deputy Lindley then punched him in the head as he was ordering the dog to release his hold around Cook's arm so that he could crawl from the attic.

 

According to Cook's lawsuit, "Deputy Lindley ordered the K-9 to attack and bite Mr. Cook on the left hamstring after he was handcuffed."   He said the dog continued to bite his leg as he was cuffed, resulting in "significant injuries."

 

Cook was taken by ambulance to Reid Hospital for treatment before going to jail.

December 20, 2013 in Excessive Force | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

CRL&P Daily Reads: Dec. 19, 2013

Five recommendations from NSA task force; The Week asks whether NSA's mass surveillance is effective; Politico looks at how task force's recommendations affect Obama's policy options; and, Dave Eggers says Dave Eggers and others should speak out against the NSA's policies.

ACLU alleges Native American and black students subject to racial and sexual harassment from students and teachers in California school district.

Bill in Ohio Senate would allow married same-sex couples to file joint tax returns.

Former officer alleges sex discrimination by police department when it terminated her because of a workplace relationship; police in New Jersey settle civil rights suit alleging harassment of a teenager; officer in Georgia faces lawsuit after putting a man in the hospital with a blow from his flashlight; and, Columbus alleged to have violated event organizer's civil rights when it shut down his festival after the shooting of an 11-year-old. 

No more donations to the Boy Scouts until gay leaders are allowed, says Lockheed Martin.

 

December 19, 2013 in Civil Rights Litigation, Excessive Force, Fourth Amendment, Same-sex marriage, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

CRL&P Daily Reads: Dec. 18, 2013

Larry Klayman, Larry Klayman, Larry Klayman.

Brazil shirks Snowden.

Plain Dealer columnist argues for armed employees in schools.

Federal judge will hear challenge to Ohio's ban on recognition of same-sex marriages on death certificates.

Student's civil rights suit alleges anti-LGBT harassment by teachers and administrators; police lieutenant claims he was fired in retaliation for testimony he gave against the department in several civil rights cases; Orlando PD face allegations of excessive force by a group of officers; and, civil rights suit over alleged unjustifiable death of Lansing teenager re-emerges.

 

December 18, 2013 in Civil Rights Litigation, Excessive Force, Fourth Amendment, Gun Policy, Same-sex marriage, Schools, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

CRL&P Daily Reads: Dec. 17, 2013

Federal judge says NSA's surveillance program violates the Fourth Amendment, but that will not be the end of it; several Senators feeling vindicated after the ruling; Politico explains the political impact of the NSA ruling on the White House's surveillance program review plans; NYTimes profiles the plaintiff; Obama will discuss NSA surveillance with Tech giants at today's meeting; and, Snowden tests the waters on 'permanent political asylum' in Brazil (full letter here).

Civil rights activists accuse Texas of neglecting election laws aimed at boosting voter turnout.

State's lawyers in challenge to Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage ban allegedly stalling and making intrusive requests of plaintiffs; and, same-sex couples in Illinois can get married before law's enactment with a doctor's certification that a life-threatening illness would makes doubtful their ability to wait.

Seattle PD facing civil rights suit after officer allegedly throws a bystander of protest to the ground.

 

December 17, 2013 in Civil Rights Litigation, Election Law, Excessive Force, Fourth Amendment, Same-sex marriage, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, December 16, 2013

CRL&P Daily Reads: Dec. 16, 2013

Sunday, December 15, 2013

CRL&P Daily Reads: Dec. 15, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

CRL&P Daily Reads: Dec. 13, 2013

Advisory committee says NSA's mass surveillance should continue under new privacy constraints.

Investigation finds that guns website posts ads from sellers without licenses; Guardian's Michael Cohen claims America's gun carnage continues with no end in sight; and, gun club hopes to curb violence by teaching young people different ideas about guns.

Trial in North Carolina voter ID case is scheduled for July 2015.

Michigan restricts abortion insurance offered through new exchanges.

Civil rights suit alleges deputies pepper sprayed a couple and beat the husband after he held train doors open for his wife; civil rights suit filed after sheriff's deputy makes a man sit and kneel on hot asphalt for nearly half an hour, causing second-degree burns; and, civil rights groups say Dallas PD has a pattern of using excessive force.

Same-sex couples now will receive equal treatment when applying for federal student loans.

 

December 13, 2013 in Civil Rights Litigation, Election Law, Excessive Force, Fourth Amendment, Gun Policy, Right to Vote, Same-sex marriage, Voter ID | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

CRL&P Daily Reads: Dec. 10, 2013

Allegedly illegal strip searches in Milwaukee jail could cost the city millions; man acquitted of drug charges files a civil rights suit against FBI alleging malicious prosecution; police face civil rights suit after officer pleads guilty to child porn; jail staff knew diabetic woman in their care needed insulin perhaps days before she died; Miami Gardens police allegedly used excessive force and denied medical treatment to arrestee; and, man was killed by a police officer who had accidently been tased by another officer.

Atlantic says Obama misled MSNBC's Chris Matthews on NSA surveillance; Guardian reflects on how the debate over surveillance has changed since Snowden's leaks; Nobel-winning writers say NSA surveillance is compromising freedom; Bill Clinton worries about the NSA's collection of economic data; and, NSA makes tech companies worry about profits.

Federal judge holds journalists have no constitutional right to be embedded with military; and, ACLU says prison officials violated the First Amendment by denying reporters access to prisoners after a riot.

Gun manufacturers doing better than before Newtown.

Same-sex couples race to challenge Texas's same-sex marriage ban; and, this graph shows geographical online efforts to promote gay-rights.

 

December 10, 2013 in Civil Rights Litigation, Excessive Force, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Press, Freedom of Speech, Gun Policy, Prisons and Prisoners, Same-sex marriage, Strip Searches, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Don't tase me, Bro!

In Texas, civil rights groups are challenging the authority of police officers and school security personnel to use non-lethal weapons in schools. Keeping schools safe and orderly may be difficult, but those goals are frustrated when permissible measures include ones that are themselves unsafe. In 2004, Amnesty International raised concerns that "electro-shock weapons are particularly open to abuse by unscrupulous officials," and it may have been right. Earlier this year, an elderly Alzheimer's patient died after being tased by a police officer; and, there's this... 

Since 2001, more than 500 people have died after having been tased.

Reported by The Police News, the article begins:

Dont_tase_me_bro_sticker-rb8c013f1fdee49f29e7198399577149f_v9waf_8byvr_512After a November altercation between a law enforcement officer and a high school student left the student in a coma, civil rights groups are urging the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to ban the use of non-lethal weapons like Tasers and pepper spray on school grounds.

 

Last month, Sheriff's Deputy Randy McMillan, who was a school resource officer at the time, used a Taser on Noe Nino de Rivera, 17, while trying to break up a fight at Cedar Creek High School in Bastrop County, Texas. After receiving the shock from the stun gun, the teenager fell to the ground and suffered a traumatic brain injury, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The teen remains in a medically induced coma.

 

Now, seven civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, are fighting back against the use of non-lethal weapons on students. In a letter sent to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement on Wednesday, the groups called on the commission to implement standards barring the practice, according to a statement released by the Texas ACLU.

CRL&P related posts:

December 8, 2013 in Excessive Force | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

CRL&P Daily Reads: Dec. 5, 2013

Massachussetts legislative committee on election laws considers voter ID bill; Mississippi's Secretary of State claims that 90 percent of the state's citizens already have ID required by new voting law; and, voting rights group to advocate for laws that expand voting and access to the polls in all 50 states.

Civil rights lawsuit filed against a police officer who allegedly broke an elderly man's arm in a roadside incident while off-duty; taxpayers in a Rhode Island town will cover $7 million settlement agreed to after a confrontation in which the police shot a teen 9 times leaving him paralyzed; and, wrongful death claim against California police for the shooting of a suicidal man is allowed to proceed.

Support for stricter-gun laws is dropping.

Federal judge hears oral arguments on Utah's same-sex marriage ban.

Tennessee asks state Supreme Court to provide dates of execution for 10 inmates.

NSA tracks cell locations worldwide.

 

December 5, 2013 in Civil Rights Litigation, Election Law, Excessive Force, Fourth Amendment, Gun Policy, Right to Vote, Same-sex marriage, Theories of Punishment, Voter ID, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

CRL&P Daily Reads: Nov. 26, 2013

African American judge alleges that UCLA police used excessive force when they stopped him ostensibly for not wearing his seat belt.

NSA likely accessed Google and Yahoo user data through fiber-optic cables used to connect data centers; Guardian columnist says NSA's surveillance program demonstrates hypocrisy of 'Five Eyes' countries; U.S. officials worry that Snowden might still have a large cache of intelligence data; and, Jeff Jarvis wades through more hero/villain-talk regarding Snowden.

The Week examines the recent difficulties of anti-abortion groups at the polls.

Mississippi Democrats say new voter ID law will hurt both parties, but the state is ready to start issuing voter ID cards.

Civil rights group updates its app for reporting TSA complaints.

 

November 26, 2013 in Abortion, Election Law, Excessive Force, Fourth Amendment, Right to Vote, Voter ID | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 25, 2013

CRL&P Daily Reads: Nov. 25, 2013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

CRL&P Daily Reads: Nov. 24, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cop facing criminal charges, embroiled in civil rights lawsuit resigns

Last month, Skokie police officer Michael Hart was charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct after shoving a woman into a jail cell with such force that her injuries required reconstructive surgery. On November 15, 2013, Hart resigned.

According to The Chicago Tribune:

A Skokie police officer charged with shoving a woman face-first into a cell bench has resigned rather than face possible firing, village officials said.

Skokie officials had told Michael Hart that they would seek to fire him, and his resignation took effect Friday, according to a news release from the village. 

The incident occurred after police arrested Cassandra Feuerstein for drunk driving. At the jail, Officer Hart reportedly "became irate that [Feuerstein] wouldn't look into the camera for a booking photo[.]" Surveillance video shows Officer Hart shoving Feuerstein into a jail cell causing her to hit her face on a concrete bench inside the cell. Feuerstein reportedly broke an eye socket and lost teeth, and as a result she now has a titanium plate in her face.

As CRL&P has noted, Feuerstein has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Officer Hart alleging that he used execessive force (which seems pretty clear).

CRL&P related posts:

November 18, 2013 in Civil Rights Litigation, Excessive Force | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cops who shot gun owner denied immunity

The title of this post comes from this article about a gun owner who was shot by sheriff's deputies when he stepped outside his cousin's home with his gun to investigate the noises he had heard. As the Courtroom News Service reported at the time, he filed a lawsuit against the sheriff's department:

He seeks punitive damages for excessive force, unwarranted use of deadly force, illegal search and entry, illegal seizure, racial discrimination, assault, battery, negligence and due process violations.

The sheriff's office asserted qualified immunity because of their belief that the man had been armed, but the judge rejected that claim.

The parties dispute whether the plaintiff actually had fired a shot after he stepped outside.

The article begins:

Sheriff's deputies must face claims related to their shooting of a man who heard possible intruders outside his home and stepped out with a gun to investigate, the 4th Circuit ruled.


The decision notes that George Cooper Sr. had been at the mobile home of his cousin, Paul Herring, on May 2, 2007, in rural Leland, N.C., after they spent the better part of the day repairing the floor of a nearby relative's home.


Before dinner, the men relaxed in Cooper's backyard, "talking about '[f]ootball games [and] old fights," Judge Robert King wrote for the three-judge appellate panel.


"Cooper may have enjoyed the mid-spring evening a little too much, smoking marijuana laced with cocaine, and chasing 'three or four beers' with a pint of Brandy," he added.


It was just after 11 p.m. when a neighbor called 911 to report that an altercation was occurring on Cooper's property. The dispatchers then related the call to Brunswick County Sheriff's deputies James Sheehan and Brian Carlisle.

 

November 9, 2013 in 14th Amendment, Excessive Force, Search | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

CRL&P Daily Reads: Oct. 23, 2013