Appeals Court: Police Can Violate Our Rights Without Fear Of Being Sued

By MassPrivateI

For those of you who claim we don’t live in a police state, I give you this recent Michigan Appeals Court ruling.

In 2015, Deputy James Dawson went to Joshua Brennan’s home and knocked on his door trying to obtain a breath sample. When Brennan did not answer, Dawson spent an hour and a half knocking at his doors and windows.

Officer Dawson also put crime-scene tape over Brennan’s security cameras to conceal his actions and used his siren and cruiser lights in an attempt to rouse him.

When Brennan finally opened his door, officer Dawson forced him to take a breathalyzer and arrested him for a probation violation even though he blew a 0.000.

All of this was done without a warrant. (Warrantless breathalyzer tests was not a condition of Brennan’s probation.)

If you think it is obvious to any reasonable person that his rights were violated, then you don’t know how the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals interprets the Constitution.

The fact that this even went to an Appeals Court speaks volumes about our justice system, but I digress.

Let’s get back to the ruling;  judge John Nalabandian said that officer Dawson did violate Brennan’s Fourth Amendment rights by searching him without a warrant. All is good so far, right?

Not quite, Nalabandian went on to say “police actions that violate the Constitution do not lead to liability.”

The court also ruled that since officer “Dawson’s implied license was not clearly established” and because of that old police standby, “deficient training,” he cannot be sued.

To say that the court’s reasoning is frustrating is an understatement. The court said that because “Wilson and Clare County were not on actual or constructive notice that the deputy training was deficient they could not be liable.”

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Does anyone really think police are held to a higher standard when they constantly use the “deficient training” excuse?

If you are upset by the court’s ruling that police are not liable for violating the Constitution, I warn you — it only gets worse.

Citizens must prove to judges that violating out rights is unlawful

According to the Sixth Circuit — and this speaks volumes about our justice system — “the plaintiff bears the burden of proving that the right was so well settled that every reasonable official would understand that what he is doing is unlawful.”

In other words, citizens must prove to a “reasonable official” [judge] that a police officer violating the Constitution is unlawful.

The Sixth Circuit claimed that since the Hardesty v. Hamburg Twp. ruling did not set a limit on how long a police officer can harass people at their homes Brennan cannot sue the police.  Even though they admitted that “absent a warrant a police officer has no greater license to remain on the property than a Girl Scout or trick-or-treater.”

The ruling repeatedly admits that “Dawson arguably violated the Constitution,” but states for a second time that “even if a government official violated a constitutional right, that official is entitled to qualified immunity.”

The Sixth Circuit refused to view the “constitutionality of the officer’s conduct or the continuing viability of Hardesty and Turk.”

Not only did the Appeals court rule that Brennan cannot sue the police for violating his rights, but they dismissed his unlawful arrest claim as well.

Only one judge, Karen Moore, dissented and agreed like any “reasonable official” should that Brennan’s rights were violated and the officer can be sued.

Why is the media silent when rulings as egregious as this are taking place across the country?

Proving to “reasonable officials” that violating our rights is unlawful? America is fast on its way to becoming a police state.

You can read more at the MassPrivateI blog, where this article first appeared.

Image credit: Richard Emanuel

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