Tag Archives: Qualified Immunity

Civil Rights – Malicious Prosecution – Qualified Immunity – Lack of Probable Cause – Impersonating a Police Officer (access required)

Merchant v. Bauer A Fairfax County police officer could not objectively and reasonably have believed plaintiff was impersonating a police officer in violation of a Virginia statute when plaintiff, a psychologist who served as deputy director of a Maryland county correctional department, had a badge in her pocket, used air quotes to refer to her county-provided “police car,” and told the officer he should show her professional courtesy; the 4th Circuit upholds a denial of qualified immunity to the officer.

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Civil Rights – Constitutional – First Amendment – Free Speech – Abortion Protest – Qualified Immunity (access required)

Lefemine, d/b/a Columbia Christians for Life v. Wideman The 4th Circuit upholds a judgment that a local sheriff’s department violated a pro-life group’s First Amendment rights when officers asked group members not to display “large, graphic signs” with aborted fetuses as part of a roadside demonstration, but the appellate court also upholds qualified immunity for defendants.

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Civil Rights – Constitutional – Fourth Amendment – Qualified Immunity – Strip Search – After Ion Scan   (access required)

Braun v. Maynard Maryland prison officials who used ion scanning to screen employees and performed vehicle searches and strip searches of those who tested positive for drug residue have qualified immunity from the employees’ suit alleging violation of their Fourth Amendment rights; the 4th Circuit says no clearly established federal law put defendant officers on notice the scan results here could not support a strip search.

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Civil Rights – Qualified Immunity – Unavailable – Police Officer – Fleeing Suspect – Failure to Pay Child Support – Grabbing Glock Instead of Taser (access required)

Henry v. Purnell A deputy who mistook his pistol for a Taser can be sued for shooting an unarmed, fleeing suspect; on rehearing, the en banc 4th Circuit says a jury could find that the deputy’s mistake was “objectively unreasonable” because he should have realized he had grabbed a .40 caliber Glock handgun and there was no threat from the man he was chasing for failure to pay child support.

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Judge tosses Navy brig prisoner’s tort lawsuit (access required)

A federal judge threw out a lawsuit in which a man convicted of plotting terrorism blamed top federal officials for a variety of alleged constitutional torts, including torture in a Navy brig in Charleston. U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel said Jose Padilla had no private cause of action for damages and that the defendants, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and brig officials, had qualified immunity. "We think the idea that an American citizen who was horrifically abused on American soil has no constitutional remedy is profoundly wrong," said Ben Wizner (pictured) of New York, litigation director for the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation.

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