Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

NM man wrongly arrested and held for 3 days, but no relief

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Case: MARTINEZ v. LUCERO (D.N.M. 5-31-2012)

What happened: One Judge Ortega and his staff recklessly made out an arrest warrant for the wrong man. Apparently there were multiple individuals named “Jeremy Martinez” and a clerk chose the one who happened to be in the database, even though it did not match the Jeremy-Martinez-related information she had been given. Fortunately, the correct Jeremy Martinez showed up to court and it became clear that the arrest warrant had issued for the wrong man. Unfortunately, the clerks did not bother to clear the incorrect arrest warrant out of the system. So, the wrong Jeremy Martinez got arrested and spent three days in jail. Th wrongly arrested guy then sued.

Decision: No liability for any of the state actors due to a combination of absolute immunity and qualified immunity.

Comment: Legally this may be the correct decision. However, it is the kind of thing that happens far too often, probably because the law provides no liability for these kinds of incorrect warrant errors.

Criticism: The court opinion here seems calloused, never once acknowledging the injustice of what happened to the wrongly arrested guy. Total failure of the kind of empathy that should be demanded of federal judges, like New Mexico District Court Judge James Browning. The law may have mandated that he could allow no relief, but the law certainly didn’t demand that he could express no anger or annoyance over the bad things that Judge Ortega’s team had done or commiseration for the pain and suffering that those bad acts and/or omissions had caused.

Written by Burgers Allday

June 24, 2012 at 10:35 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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