Feds pay $80,000 to couple arrested for wearing Bush protest T-shirts.

It's nice when the Constitution wins one.

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10 Responses to Justice!

  1. Attorneyat Lie says:

    You don’t think 80 large for a few hours in the klink is little bit ridiculous? Keep in mind, Florida caps out at 100K, anything higher has to be approved by the legislature. I mean come on, they weren’t beaten or anything. Doesn’t somewhere between 2 and 10K plus *reasonable* atty fees seem more appropriate? That’s our tax dollars after all.

  2. LACJ says:

    You don’t think bald-faced constitutional violations (on July 4th, no less) are serious enough to warrant significant penalties to deter future violations? When such violations have become commonplace (well, at least regular occurrences)?

    You don’t think common people could use some incentive to challenge the government after such violations occur, rather than simply having to accept that the Constitution no longer applies to them? Legal challenges cost a lot of money, as I assume the ACLU cannot accept every case like this. In any case, even if the ACLU gets involved, legal representation costs big bucks. Does 80k = 10k plus reasonable fees? Hard to say as the article does not go into details.

    Remember this was a settlement, not a judgment. Hence it would be reasonable to conclude that the government believed it would lose and have to pay even more if it went forward.

    The concern about our tax dollars is a bit strange, in light of the billions that have been lost in Iraq. Lost, mind you, not to mention all the other billions that have been wasted on so many things, like say (allegedly non-permanent) military outposts in Iraq that we will certainly be forced to abandon within 10 years or so. Only a concern troll cares about 80k, which is not even peanuts. The cost for government lawyers to handle this case was probably more than that (although again the article does not provide much detail on how far along the case went).

    Gee, maybe the Bush Administration could abide by the Constitution, that would save some big money.

  3. Mojo says:

    How much does a constitutional right go for these days anyway? Is $2K just the price for the First Amendment or is every right the same price (two for one on Tuesdays with coupon!)? Does $2K transfer the right to the government in perpetuity or is it just a thousand dollars an hour rental? If they torture you for twenty hours to get you to confess, do they still get to use the confession in court so long as they pay the $20K rental?

  4. Attorneyat Lie says:

    LACJ, you Sir are a plaintiff’s lawyer’s dream juror! My mailman recently put some of my junk mail in my neighbor’s box…do you think I have a case?

    As a side note, which actually favors your position somewhat, it occurs to me that possibly the government has insurance policies that protect either itself and/or the individual officers who performed the arrest. Many Florida agencies have this insurance. Thus the actual cost to us taxpayers may be significantly less, actually only the increased premium.

    I don’t agree with the rest of your analysis. The ACLU is not the only game in town, i.e. there are thousands of plaintiff’s attorneys in this country taking these (s.1983/qualified immunity) cases, usually on a contingency fee basis. Also, I don’t know what your point about Iraq is, as two wrongs don’t make a right…wasting tax money is wasting tax money.

    If the arrestees are really patriots, let them donate the money to some kind of troop/vet related charity.

  5. Attorneyat Lie says:

    Ms. Mojo-
    The article doesn’t mention that the couple was tortured. If you have been tortured recently, please give my office a call I’d be happy to represent you and get you paid all you deserve.

    Maybe my original estimate was too low, who knows. I don’t have the facts about how long they were held, how they were treated, etc.. I stand by my initial impression that 80 seems to high. I don’t think the way to safeguard civil rights is to turn it into lottery.

    You make a good point, the price needs to be high enough to deter the behavior. I just don’t think we’ve reached that point yet where we need to up the ante so high, and secondly there are other levers (namely criminal charges) to make government officials behave without diverting the state purse to someone that didn’t actually suffer a loss that money will realistically compensate. Indeed, your logic is self defeating because if you imagine an evil executive willing to arrest peaceful protesters, then what should that executive care about monetary sanctions if its not his own money? If this indeed were a serious serial practice, then criminal charges ought to be brought, being more effective and less expensive. And maybe they should, who knows. But I’d rather see the money go to body armor or bridge repair.

  6. Doc Rock says:

    The 80k is coming out of us–no disincentive at all.

  7. Mojo says:

    Troll feeding is usually self defeating but here goes:
    – I didn’t say they had been tortured. I was offering you the option of being tortured to make the point that your $1000 per hour rate for violation of civil rights doesn’t appear to be limited to the First Amendment so the Fifth would also be in play. Or is it just selected portions of the Bill of Rights which aren’t actually important? You didn’t answer any of my questions so it’s hard to tell what you think.
    “Maybe my original estimate was too low.” Well, since there was only an $8000 difference between your estimate and the figure you decried as “ridiculous”, there’s not a lot of room here to play with. Is the “right” answer $4997.36?
    “secondly there are other levers (namely criminal charges) to make government officials behave” and Yes, I noticed that the officers who did this were prosecuted. Wait, no they weren’t. It’s almost like leaving enforcement solely to the branch that’s committing the violations is stupid. BTW, where do you practice law that a criminal trial against police officers is a low cost affair?
    I’d rather see the money go to body armor or bridge repair. I remember the famous words of Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty or give me better infrastructure!” What exactly is the point of spending billions of dollars on defense if you’re going to give away the rights the military is sworn to protect for a few grand? But if you’re really concerned, I’ll tell you what. We’ll take part of this year’s agriculture subsidy money and use it to pay for civil rights for all Americans for the next 50,000 years.

  8. LACJ says:

    Lie, if I may call you that, you make some good points, but there is one fundamental flaw in your analysis: The taxpayer’s money is being wasted because the Administration intentionally violates protesters’ rights. Lay the blame where it belongs. It is not the fault of the protesters.

    To quote from the article: “The ACLU said in a statement that a presidential advance manual makes it clear that the government tries to exclude dissenters from the president’s appearances.”

    Again, this was a settlement, not a judgment. So the amount of money is not the fault of some jurors or a judge. Yes, juries often come up with excessive compensation, and as I am sure you know, often on appeal the amount is significantly reduced. But that is not applicable in this case. If the amount is too high for your taste then blame the government lawyers that negotiated it, or blame the staff around the President that apparently considers free speech to be a quaint concept that is no longer applicable in the post 9/11 world.

    I cannot accept your equating ‘a couple hours in the klink’ with a constitutional violation. The problem is most certainly not that they were merely inconvenienced for a couple hours. Unfortunately I have no answer to Doc Rock’s point that this is no disincentive. Sigh.

    You mention criminal charges, which really made me laugh. Criminal charges in a case like this? If you have been paying attention, a US citizen was seized by the government, held without charges or legal counsel for years, subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, and no one has ever been charged with a crime in that case. Indeed I am not aware of any law enforcement body having opened an investigation, even though the facts in the case are widely known. So criminal charges also seem inapplicable anymore.

    Finally, you seem like a decent person, so let me give you a piece of advice. You might work on your fake email. Firstly, you need one more space in your nickname, and secondly, aba.com is the American Bankers Association. The American Bar Association is abanet.org.

    Mojo, you think this guy is (one of) the troll(s) that hang around here? He seems to know that you are female…but he can spell and generally focuses on the topic at hand, rather than only attacking others. So maybe a troll, but a cut above most.

  9. Mojo says:

    LACJ, I’ll grant that he can spell but I’m male so I can’t give full credit for that one.

  10. LACJ says:

    Mojo, that is too funny. I wonder why he assumed that. But I didn’t get a Mr. or a Ms., so I feel slighted.

    But I am considering what claims he could make against the post office for negligently putting his junk mail in his neighbor’s mailbox. There just has to be a violation of law there somewhere…

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