Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

Clearlake, CA Officers Middleton and Hobbs allegedly harrass medical mj guy

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What happened:

On September 3, 2011, at about 10:00 a.m., Plaintiff was stopped and detained, and after a period of about forty minutes, arrested by Defendant Hobbs for “resisting arrest.” While detained, Hobbs told Plaintiff that he “needed to stop doing paperwork. That isn’t good for you. You should stop.” Defendant issued Plaintiff a Traffic Citation and a “Verbal Notice by Peace Officer, DMV or Court Employee,” both of which Plaintiff did not sign and instead wrote “without prejudice.” Plaintiff was not given a copy of the Citation as he was arrested immediately after not signing his traffic citation. Plaintiff was released four days later on September 7, 2011 without any charges.

Upon returning home on September 7, 2011, Plaintiff discovered certain items missing from his home, specifically eighteen medical/spiritual marijuana plants, two computer towers, and a wireless camera and its receiver. On December 15, 2011, Plaintiff met with Defendant Celli at the Clearlake Police Department to try to obtain a copy of the Traffic Citation and Verbal Notice issued by Hobbs on September 3, 2011. While Plaintiff received a copy of the Verbal Notice on September 7, 2011 in the mail, Plaintiff’s request for his Traffic Citation was rejected. Instead, Plaintiff was told to speak to Defendants’ lawyer to get a copy of his Traffic Citation. On

February 13, 2012, at about 4:35 p.m., Defendant Middleton arrested Plaintiff while at home for “resisting arrest” within five minutes of opening his front door. Plaintiff states that when he inquired as to the nature and purpose of the investigation, Officer Middleton told him to “not yell across the fence at his neighbors” as it violated the alleged temporary restraining order that had been placed on him by his neighbors. Plaintiff asserts that he had not been served with notice of the restraining order and when he sought to inquire further, Defendant “placed him in handcuffs and told him he was under arrest” (although Defendant later asserted that he was just being detained). Plaintiff was later charged for (1) resisting arrest under Pen. Code § 148(a), and (2) unlawfully fighting in a public place and maliciously disturbing another person by a loud and unreasonable noise under Pen. Code § 415. Plaintiff was released two days later on February 15, 2012 without any charges.

Decision: No qi for the policemen. They may have violated 4a.

Comment: I really wish the judge had attached to the decision a copy of the paperwork that plaintiff was being asked to sign at the roadside. While these documents often state that the signature “is not an admission of guilt,” that is not what they should say. What they should say is “not an admission of any fact set forth herein (other than the fact of the promise to appear).” Or, as the plaintiff in this case succinctly put it: “no prejudice.” And, of course, if a driver has a valid in-state driver’s license and insurance then no promise to appear should be necessary at all because there are ways of tracking the driver down later if necessary. A driver’s being coerced into signing ANYTHING at the side of the road is a highly suspect practice for at least the reasons noted in this short comment.

Written by Burgers Allday

July 28, 2012 at 7:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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