Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

Syracuse police seach of music-blasting SUV found acceptable

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Case: DANFORD v. CITY OF SYRACUSE, No. 5:09-CV-0307 (N.D. New York, September 12, 2012)

What happened: Police allege that plaintiff was blasting music from his SUV and briefly arrested him for doing that. The police failed to show up at the hearing on the ticket and the noise violation charge was dropped. Plaintiff sued, claiming that he was not stopped for noise, but, rather, stopped for being a black man driving a nice vehicle in a bad neighborhood.

Decision: QI for the police officers because plaintiff’s counsel did not file required paperwork to keep the case going. Specifically, police filed some type of sworn statement that the music was blasting, and plaintiff did not file a sworn statement to contradict that.

Comment: I drive on Delaware Street in Syracuse, NY with some frequency. The street does seem to have more than its share of annoying and/or rude pedestrians in my limited experience. I can’t recall seeing any actual crimes there, except jaywalking. The jaywalking is one of the annoying things about the street, and one reason I choose to avoid the street more often than I chose to take it.

Criticism: Plaintiff denied that the music was blasting twice. Once when he spoke to the police officers at the side of the road, and, again, when he plead “not guilty” to violation of the noise ordinance. It is not clear to me why these denials that the music was blasting fail to raise a requisite issue of material fact to avoid pre-trial qi. In other words, plaintiffs’ denial that the music was blasting appears in the sworn evidence of record, and it seems to kind of exalt form over substance to require plaintiff to repeat the denial. On the other hand, I suppose one could argue that: (i) if plaintiff can’t be bothered to submit paperwork then he doesn’t deserve his day in court; and/or (ii) it is important to have plaintiff’s sworn statement so that he can more easily be prosecuted for perjury if he is lying.

Questions: Is there dashcam of the blasting music? If there is, then why didn’t police submit it somehow? If there is not, why not? I mean, police should do what it takes to prove their criminal cases and forestall nonsense civil suits.

Written by Burgers Allday

September 16, 2012 at 7:27 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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