A big win for plaintiff’s lawyers: “Rewriting decades of established law in Illinois, the [state’] high court — by a 4-3 margin — repealed the public-duty doctrine that holds local government entities, including fire and police departments, owe their duty to protect to the general public, not individual citizens. The lawsuit opens the way for individuals to sue governmental entities based on some claim of harm caused to them as a result of the public entity’s negligence.” [Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, Cook County Record, Municipal Minute; some related issues of government duty-to-protect exposure from the state of Washington]
In a previous round, Steve Lubet challenged Alice Goffman’s much-praised book on urban criminal justice, On the Run, on many grounds. Among them was Goffman’s portrayal of Philadelphia police as routinely arresting men with outstanding warrants who showed up at city hospitals to seek ordinary medical care or visit expectant mothers or other family members. Now, in the wake of coverage in the New York Times Magazine, Lubet is back with two more posts (so far) explaining why he sees no good evidence for the claim. Paul Campos contributes a pair of new posts skeptical toward other aspects of the book. Earlier here and, on the book more generally, here.
Some Harvard researchers seek to redefine police shootings as a matter of public health [WBUR]
- Today at Cato, all-day “Policing in America” conference, watch online; also check out recent Cato podcasts with Caleb Brown on the power of cop unions [Derek Cohen] and law enforcement drones [Connor Boyack];
- Despite recently enacted New Mexico law ending civil asset forfeiture, Albuquerque goes right on seizing residents’ cars [C.J. Ciaramella, BuzzFeed] Tulsa DA warns that asset forfeiture reform will bring headless bodies swinging from bridges [Radley Balko]
- Through court orders and settlements, Justice Department has seized control of the practices of police departments around the country. How has that worked? [Washington Post]
- Punishing the buyers: “The Nordic model for prostitution is not the solution — it’s the problem” [Stuart Chambers, National Post]
- “Plaintiff Wins $57,000 Settlement Over False Gravity Knife Arrest” [Jon Campbell, Village Voice] Will Republicans block reform of New York’s notorious knife law? [Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit] Second Circuit on standing to sue by knife owners;
- Union-backed bill had Republican sponsor: “Bill shielding identities of police who use force passes Pennsylvania House” [Watchdog]
- Federalist Society convention breakout session on “Ferguson, Baltimore, and Criminal Justice Reform” resulted in fireworks [YouTube; Tim Lynch, Cato]
Puff, puff, gasp, wheeze…. ah, better just let the perp go. “A U.S. district court ruled the twelve [female] officers who are all at least 40 years old must be reinstated until a final ruling, although they failed the physical fitness test, reported Colorado Springs outlet KRDO.” [Casey Harper, Daily Caller]
Commenter Gitarcarver on yesterday’s item about how some in the Charlotte Police Department have talked about designating “public safety zones” where persons who have previously been arrested would be forbidden to go:
The City wants to make these zones based on arrests (not convictions.)
At the same time, an employer cannot ask whether a person has been arrested. Of course, there is now the push for “ban the box” which means an employer cannot ask about a conviction.
The City wants to say it can ban people and arrest people from public property, but those private companies can’t even ask about those convictions (much less arrests) during the initial hiring process.
THAT makes sense.
- Mark your calendar: December 1 Cato hosts a policing conference in Washington, D.C.;
- “Note: DOJ thinks flying from Chicago to Los Angeles is suspicious.” Well, no wonder they did a forfeiture then! [@bradheath]
- Mississippi voters on Tuesday returned longtime Attorney General Jim Hood to office by 56-44 margin [Radley Balko; Jackson Clarion-Ledger; earlier Balko on Hood’s spotted record as prosecutor]
- “No! Mine is more unconstitutional!” Police and council in Charlotte, N.C. mull “whether to create ‘public safety zones,’ city areas where people with past arrests would be prohibited from entering.”‘ [Charlotte Observer]
- Harvard lawprof Jeannie Suk on the St. Paul’s sexual assault case and the rapidly changing definition of rape [Jeannie Suk, New Yorker]
- Prison “pay to stay” charges can far exceed any reasonable ability to pay, and few outside the world of ex-offenders “even know it’s happening” [Scott Greenfield]
- “Was it a turf war gone mad? Or a botched police response?” [Nathaniel Penn, GQ, on the Waco biker gang shoot-out, earlier here, here, here]
“Body cameras undoubtedly gather valuable evidence of police misconduct, and although research on the effects of body cameras is comparatively limited there are good reasons to believe that they can improve police behavior. However, without the right policies in place the use of police body cameras could result in citizens’ privacy being needlessly violated.” Storage and release policies for video footage need to be carefully considered ahead of time as well. [Matthew Feeney, Cato]
The town of Red Wing, Minnesota, has passed a resolution urging that assaults on police be made a hate crime, a position urged for some years by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) union. How bad an idea is this? A very bad one indeed, I argue in an op-ed for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Critics argue that [existing hate-crime] laws in effect play favorites, departing from the spirit of equal protection under law that aims at treating all victims of personal assault as equally important.
Because they seem to put an official public seal on a narrative of oppression, such laws are also lobbied for in me-too fashion by other groups that rightly or wrongly see themselves as oppressed….
Not only are lethal assaults on police declining, I note, but the vast majority of them do not arise from any supposed prejudice or animus against cops, nor do such crimes go neglected and unprosecuted. Besides, most states already allow sentence enhancements on other grounds for crimes against police:
…what would [such a change in law] symbolize? The merely absurd proposition that police in the U.S. today are an oppressed minority group? Or the downright dangerous proposition that the law should step in to chastise and rectify the attitudes of a public that may not be as supportive of police wishes and demands as cop advocates would like?
Read the whole thing. Incidentally, the town council voted last week to let its Human Rights Commission review the resolution, a possible step toward reconsidering it. Some earlier Cato commentary on hate-crime laws here, here, here, and here. (cross-posted from Cato at Liberty).
More links: Star-Tribune original coverage (noting that Red Wing’s police chief approached the council requesting the resolution as a “show of support,” and that Minnesota already provides for sentence enhancements when police are the target of crimes, as indeed do most states); FBI on definition of hate crime; Fraternal Order of Police side of the case; Washington Post; U.S. News; New York Daily News.
Belmar, New Jersey: “A woman who pounded double-vodka cocktails at 7 a.m. and then repeatedly fell off a chair at police headquarters can proceed with a lawsuit against officers who arrested her for drunken driving, an appellate panel has ruled.” [Kathleen Hopkins, Asbury Park Press]