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    Supreme Court Update: ~ Qualified Immunity ~

    An individual officer’s greatest shield in a lawsuit that alleges a violation of civil rights is qualified immunity. A decision by the United States Supreme Court in December, further clarified the strength of this immunity. In Brosseau v.Haugen, 543 U.S.___; 2004 U.S. LEXIS 8275 (2004), the United States Supreme Court examined a case involving the use of deadly force by Officer ...
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    Supreme Court Handcuffing during Warrant Execution Upheld

    On March 22, 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court re-examined the questions as to whether officers may detain occupants of a residence where they are executing a search warrant and whether handcuffing is appropriate in such circumstances. The case, Muehler v. Mena, ___U.S.___, 125 S.Ct. 1465 (2005), involved the execution of a search warrant for guns and other things following a gang-related ...
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    U.S. Supreme Court Exigent Entry at Loud Music Call

    Brigham City v. Stuart, involved a fairly typical police event. Officers from Brigham City were called at 3:00 a.m. about a loud party at a residence. Two officers approached the house and heard yelling and what sounded like a disturbance at the rear of the house. The officers documented the fact that they heard “thumping and crashing” and someone yelling “stop, ...
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    U.S. Supreme Court Exigent Entry at Loud Music Call

    Brigham City v. Stuart, involved a fairly typical police event. Officers from Brigham City were called at 3:00 a.m. about a loud party at a residence. Two officers approached the house and heard yelling and what sounded like a disturbance at the rear of the house. The officers documented the fact that they heard “thumping and crashing” and someone yelling “stop, ...
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    Hidden Compartment in Motor Vehicle Can Provide Probable Cause for Search

    United States v. Concepcion-Ledesma, 447 F.3d 1307 (10th Cir. 2006) Just the Facts… On May 16, 2006 the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, in the above case, held that the presence of a hidden compartment in vehicle, taken with the totality of the circumstances, provides probable cause for a warrantless search. In this case, a Kansas State Trooper observed a group ...
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    Reasonable Suspicion In School Drug Cases

    In establishing reasonable suspicion to conduct the search of a student, school officials and police officers assigned to schools should provide complete details of the facts which justified their decision to search. A case from the State of Washington provides a good example of the detail which will support such a search. State of Washington v. Huff, 2004 Wash. App. LEXIS ...
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    A Lack of In-Service Training May Lead to Liability

    In Lewis v. City of Chicago, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7482 (Ill. N. District 2005), a federal trial court set forth the importance of in-service training with respect to restraint and control tactics. Christopher Hicks died during the course of his arrest on May 26, 2004. His death was ruled a homicide and the cause of death was listed as asphyxiation ...
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    U.S. Supreme Court: Admissibility of Out of Court Statements Made to Police

    as Statement made during an Ongoing Emergency-in attempt to Resolve Emergency? Was Statement made after Emergency-in effort to prove Past Events for Criminal Prosecution? In Davis v. Washington and Hammon v. Indiana the United States Supreme Court decided companion cases which involved the same issue but resulted in different outcomes. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether prosecutors could use ...
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    Tasered Spectator Has Potential Case of Excessive Force and Unlawful Arrest

    Following a day of watching races at the Gateway International Raceway, Christopher DeSalvo was watching guests of the Holiday Inn do “burnouts” with their vehicles in the rear lot of the hotel. Approximately 100-150 guests were gathered for the show. The gathering and the vehicle “burnouts” prompted the response of the police. Officer Krug, upon responding a second time to the ...
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    Positional Asphyxia

    Another aspect of pepper-spray that leads to litigation is deaths resulting from positional asphyxia. Positional asphyxia involves the improper placement of individuals who have violently resisted causing physical exertion and sometimes exacerbated by the effects of pepper-spray which inhibits breathing. Many of these cases also involve the presence of narcotics that increases a suspect’s heart rate as well as other physiological ...
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    US Supreme Court Argument - Scott v. Harris (Ramming During High Speed Pursuit)

    On Monday February 26, 2007 the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in Scott v. Harris, a case stemming from a high-speed pursuit in Coweta County Georgia. Harris, the motorist was speeding through Coweta County which drew the attention of law enforcement. Officers attempted to stop Harris, at which point he fled at high-speed. Deputy Scott of the Coweta County ...
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    Hostages and Agency Liability - Part 2

    Negotiators may also become the focal point of attack following the death of a barricaded subject. A person suing the negotiator will make the argument that the negotiator violated generally accepted practices of negotiation and that this violation created the situation which required the use of deadly force. Gammon v. Blakeley and the Euclid Police Department,i provides an example of an ...
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    Student showing propensity for violence can be required to undergo psychiatric evaluation

    Demers v. Leominster School Dept., 263 F.Supp. 2d 195 (Dist. MA 2003). Michael Demers and his parents filed a federal lawsuit against school officials after he was suspended from school following his refusal to undergo a psychiatric exam. The suit alleged among other things, a violation of Michael’s due process rights. School officials sought to have Michael psychiatrically examined after he ...
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    Probable Cause and Objective Reasonableness U.S. Supreme Court

    In Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S.___, 2004 U.S. LEXIS 8272 (2004), the United States Supreme Court examined a case where officers, with probable cause to arrest a subject, Jerome Alford for impersonating a police officer, instead arrested him for tape recording the officers during the investigatory stop. A previous court decision held that it was not illegal to tape police officers ...
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    Supreme Court-Violation of Miranda does not Violate 5th Amendment but may Violate Due Process

    In a decision dated May 27, 2003, the United States Supreme Court held that interrogation undertaken and continued in violation of Miranda, does not give rise to a civil lawsuit based on a violation of the Fifth Amendment in cases where the police never attempt to introduce the statement in a criminal trial. Chavez v. Martinez, 538 U.S. ___, slip op. ...
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    Vehicle Checkpoints

    Over the past decade the United States Supreme Court has decided three cases dealing with law enforcement checkpoints involving car stops by police officers without individualized suspicion to believe that the operator of the vehicle had done anything wrong. In Michigan v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990), the Court approved of Sobriety Checkpoints where the police were acting pursuant to set ...
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    United States Court of Appeal for 6th Circuit Upholds Discrimination Award in Transsexual Promotion Case

    Philip, now Philiecia, Barnes a member of the Cincinnati Police Department filed a lawsuit alleging, among other things, sex discrimination after he failed to pass the probationary period following his promotion to sergeant. In 1999, Phillip Barnes was living as a pre-operative male to female transsexual. When Barnes worked as a police officer during the day, he lived as a male, ...
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    Renewed Challenges Based on Miranda

    Over the past couple of years courts have seen a renewed number of claims based upon allegations related to violations of the 5th Amendment self-incrimination clause as well as violations of the rule announced in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Two cases decided on June 28th 2004 provide some guidance for law enforcement agencies with respect to the reaches ...
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    Reasonable Training And Policy Direction On Handling Of The Mentally Ill And Emotionally Disturbed Persons?

    In Walker v. City of New York, the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit gave law enforcement some direction for determining what training officers must be provided with to do their jobs professionally and with lower liability exposure. Essentially the case indicated that if you know to a moral certainty that officers will confront a certain situation; and ...
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    Procedural Time Limits In Administrative Investigations - Absolutes

    When you are involved with public employee disciplinary matters and have procedural time limits imposed on your case, failing to meet those time limits will normally result in losing the ability to discipline the employee regardless what the misconduct may be. In essence these limits are essentially a statute of limitations, in other words, bring your discipline within the allotted time ...
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