Archive for the 'Supreme Court' Category



The Supreme Court On Excessive Force

BY Herschel Smith
1 month, 2 weeks ago

Guns.com:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously agreed that sheriff’s deputies used reasonable force when in a 2010 shooting that left two wounded.

Falling back on a longstanding objective reasonableness argument in use-of-force case law, the high court overturned a previous ruling in the case of Angel Mendez and Jennifer Garcia, between them shot 15 times by Los Angeles County deputies conducting a search.

Two deputies, Christopher Conley and Jennifer Pederson, were part of a larger force of officers looking for a dangerous parolee when they came across the couple living inside a primitive shack behind the property being searched. Without a warrant or announcing their presence, the officers opened the door to the shack which prompted a napping Mendez, who had a BB gun on his futon that he used to kill rats with, to stand. Conely yelled, “Gun!” and the deputies opened fire, hitting both individuals. Mendez, shot 14 times, had to have a leg amputated while Garcia, pregnant at the time of the shooting and hit once in the back, feared to lose her child.

Citing excessive force and civil rights allegations, the couple sued the county in 2011 in federal court, with U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald in August 2013 granting over $4 million in damages to Mendez and Garcia. The ruling, upheld by the U.S. 9th Circuit on appeal last year, was overturned by the Supreme Court this week.

The deputies, previously cleared after the shooting by the LASD’s Office of Independent Review, used reasonable force as noted by the Supreme Court in an opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito for the eight-jurist panel that did not include newly added Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was not part of the court when the case was argued.

The court fell back on the 1989 Graham v. Connor ruling which held that objective reasonableness must be used when determining if excessive force was used by police, with courts basing their decisions on the information the officers had at the time.

What Alito took exception to was the 9th Circuit’s use of the so-called provocation rule to find the deputies liable for $4 million in damages, pinning it on a “murky” connection to a Fourth Amendment violation of search and seizure rights to label it excessive force. The logic of the 9th Circuit’s decision in citing the provocation rule was that the deputies lost their immunity from damages after they entered the shack without a warrant.

While I’m not a legal scholar, with all due respect to the writeup at Guns.com, this is a complex ruling and the Supreme Court is famous for deciding cases within a very limited framework.

The decision can be found here.  Alito had a problem with invoking a Ninth Circuit rule that he believed didn’t apply and could be used for nefarious reasons in the future.  Here is the money quote.

The rule’s fundamental flaw is that it uses another constitutional violation to manufacture an exces­sive force claim where one would not otherwise exist.

But if Alito has destroyed the Ninth Circuit “provocation” rule, in one and the same sentence he has destroyed the notion that there can ever be such a thing as excessive force.  He takes aim at the provocation rule, but in the process he runs roughshod over the specifics of the case where LEOs shot up two people who posed no danger to them because of “information they had at the time.”

Whether they should have had better information is left unaddressed, as it always will be.  Whether the safety of the innocents should be as important (or more important) than safety of the officers is left unaddressed.  Moreover, while the Supreme Court is protected by their own security, Alito doesn’t address the fact that we – the ordinary peasants – simply cannot wait for alleged LEOs to finish their business while we lie around unmoved as I’ve observed before concerning a case of armed men dressed in SWAT uniforms who invaded a home.

In addition to your felt need to “go home safely at the end of your shift,” we have an equivalent need to be safe in our own homes, to prevent flash-bang grenades from being thrown into our toddler’s cribs, to prevent your reflexively shooting our family dogs, and to prevent street thugs like this from raiding our homes under the guise of being police officers.

You see, we can’t just lay down and let people screaming “police, police, get the fuck on the floor, police, police” … come into our homes without countering those efforts with close quarters battle.  Because they may not be police.”

But in fact the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did just this, i.e., the gave LEOs a pass for shooting an innocent man on bad information because they invaded his home and he resisted, not knowing who the invaders were.  So while the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals beclowned themselves with an idiotic ruling that could make the founders turn in their graves, the U.S. Supreme Court played one-upmanship in the parade of the ridiculous.

For LEOs, it’s okay to shoot a man who poses you no danger if he has a BB gun, as long as the information you have at the time, correct or incorrect, makes you believe you are in danger.  Warrant or no warrant.  It makes no difference.  Alito found that there was no excessive force.  Nothing else matters, and there will never be any recollection of the Ninth Circuit’s “provocation” rule or what Alito said about it.  This is all that matters.

If you were ever waiting on the Supreme Court to come to your aid regarding overbearing and dangerous police actions, you can disavow yourselves of the notion that there will be any aid forthcoming.  You’ve been taken.

The Supreme Court On Domestic Violence And Guns

BY Herschel Smith
1 year ago

Jurist:

The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday ruled [opinion, PDF] 6-2 in Voisine v. United States [SCOTUSblog materials] that a state law conviction on reckless domestic assault is sufficient to bar possession of a firearm under federal law. Stephen Voisine and William Armstrong had pleaded guilty to violating a Maine statute [text] that makes it a misdemeanor to “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause[ ] bodily injury or offensive physical contact to another person.” When later investigations revealed that both men were in possession of firearms, they were charged and convicted under a federal law [18 U.S.C. § 922 text] that prohibits any person convicted of “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” from possessing firearms and ammunition. On appeal, the petitioners argued that, because their domestic violence convictions were based on recklessness, and not intentional or knowing conduct, they were insufficient to support the federal charge. Focusing on the meaning of “use … physical force,” the Supreme Court disagreed and upheld the convictions. Writing for the majority, Justice Elena Kagan found that

… the word “use” does not demand that the person applying force have the purpose or practical certainty that it will cause harm, as compared with the understanding that it is substantially likely to do so. Or, otherwise said, that word is indifferent as to whether the actor has the mental state of intention, knowledge, or recklessness with respect to the harmful consequences of his volitional conduct.

So it isn’t really just physical force that’s included under the rubric of domestic violence, but it expands to “intent” and a substantial likelihood.  You don’t reckon that this will be abused by angry spouses looking to get even or inflict emotional injury do you?  You don’t reckon that “domestic abuse” will become the new crime applied to virtually every gun owner who has a domestic squabble, do you?

And as for prohibiting gun ownership for such things as the perceived “intent” to do harm, any present or future spouse is affected in a similar way as the “criminal.”  Remember that a felon or person found guilty of domestic “abuse” cannot just not own guns, he cannot even be around others with guns.  That means that homes are left unprotected, including spouses who never had anything to do with this whole mess to begin with.  It’s called the law of unintended consequences.  Or perhaps the Supreme Court intends this outcome, and if so, isn’t that a pretty picture, ladies?

Dear reader, as you know from previous posts, do not ever talk to the police.  And make sure that you and your family are on good terms, know and understand each other, and know and understand the threat that the state poses.  Do not ever turn to the state for protection, guidance or justification.

Chimney Rock, Flag Flying Half Staff In Honor Of Scalia

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 4 months ago

Over the weekend the family took a hike up Chimney Rock.  This is the flag flying half staff for the lion of the court, the one who single-handedly changed the arc of constitutional interpretation in America.

ChimneyRock_Scalia


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