Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean that they are not after you

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What happened: Plaintiff, a college student, went to campus security to complain that her landlord had set up secret cameras in her apartment and that her roommates were saying bad things about her on the internet. Instead of investigating the complaint as though it might be true, security decided to have the complainant psychologically analyzed at a mental hospital. Plaintiff was held at the mental hospital for a couple of weeks. It turned out that the student did not have any psychological problems, and that her landlord had placed a hidden camera in her bedroom. It was not established whether or not her roommates had said bad things about her on the internet, although this part of plaintiff’s story seems plausible, at least in 20-20 hindsight. Plaintiff was thrown out of college, ostensibly for missing tests when she was held against her will during her involuntary committement.

Decision: Security officers may end up being liable here for forcing plaintiff to go to the mental hospital, but not for her relatively long stay.

Comment: The security officers (and others) who were defendants in this case were not police officers, although, police officers can and do require a subject to go get a psychiatric evaluations sometimes, even if the subject has not committed any crime.

Written by Burgers Allday

January 4, 2012 at 11:48 am

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