Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

Judge James H. Payne recognizes Oklahoma right to resist unlawful arrest

with one comment

Case: CHATMAN v. BULLER, Case No. 12-CV-182-JHP (E.D. Oklahoma, February 20, 2013)


Finally, Defendant asserts that probable cause existed to arrest Plaintiff for obstruction in violation of 21 Okla. Stat. 540. [Id.] 21 Okla. Stat. 540 provides that “[e]very person who willfully delays or obstructs any public officer in the discharge or attempt to discharge any duty of his office, is guilty of a misdemeanor.” However, Oklahoma courts recognize a limited right to resist an unlawful arrest under certain circumstances. Trent v. State, 777 P.2d 401, 403 (Okla. Crim. App. 1989) (citing State v. Cook, 663 P.2d 20, 21 (Okla. Crim. App. 1983)); see also Graves v. Thomas, 450 F.3d 1215, 1225 (10th Cir. 2006); Brown v. City of Oklahoma City, Okla., 721 P.2d 1346, 1352 (Okla. Civ. App. 1986) (In light of the police officer’s racist and egregious behavior in effecting the illegal seizure of the plaintiff’s car and the plaintiff’s arrest, the plaintiff’s “defiance of and interference with the wrecker driver’s molestation of her car was not excessive.”); Sandersfield v. State, 568 P.2d 313, 315 (Okla. Crim. App. 1977) (“[T]he right to resist an unlawful arrest is limited and varies with the circumstances.”); Walters v. State, 403 P.2d 267, 275 (Okla. Crim. App. 1965) (“The right to resist an unlawful arrest is limited and varies with the circumstances.”); Billings v. State, 166 P. 904, 906 (Okla. Crim. App. 1917) (“If an attempted arrest be unlawful, the party sought to be arrested may use such reasonable force, proportioned to the injury attempted upon him, as is necessary to effect his escape, but no more; and he cannot do this by using, or offering to use, a deadly weapon, if he has no reason to apprehend a greater injury than a mere unlawful arrest.”). Therefore, a party cannot be found guilty for violating 21 Okla. Stat. 540 if there is insufficient legal justification, mainly, probable cause, to support the underlying arrest.

In sum, if there was no probable cause for the arrest for violation of city ordinances, then there can be no probable cause for violation of 21 Okla. Stat. 540, because one cannot be guilty of resisting an unlawful arrest. Therefore, because there are genuine disputes of material fact as to the lawfulness of Plaintiff’s arrest for an alleged violation of the aforementioned city ordinances, the Court cannot summarily conclude there was probable cause to arrest Plaintiff for violating 21 Okla. Stat. 540.

Written by Burgers Allday

February 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. […] Blogged about this case at its sj stage here. […]

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