Criminal Conviction Collaterally Estops Civil Rights Lawsuit

Brown v. City of Chicago (CA7) (here):

Arthur Brown sued Officer Duane Blackman under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for excessive force, alleging Officer Blackman shot him without justification.  The district court granted Officer Blackman summary judgment, concluding that because Brown had been convicted of aggravated assault, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon based on his encounter with Officer Blackman, Brown’s current suit was barred by collateral estoppel. Brown appeals. We affirm.

Brooks v. City of Seattle: Ninth Circuit OK's Tasering of Pregnant Woman

Split panel; 48-page opinion; Tasers.  Might not be the last we've heard of this case (especially in light of the Ninth Circuit's opinion in Bryan v. McPherson) in which Judge Berzon leads her dissent thusly:

Here is what happened to Malaika Brooks, a pregnant mother, as she was driving her son to school one day: Two, soon three, police officers surrounded her. The officers thought she was speeding in a school zone; she says she was not. Brooks provided her identification when asked, so there was no doubt who she was or where to find her. The officers wrote her a ticket but she refused to sign it. Refusing to sign a speeding ticket was at the time a nonarrestable misdemeanor; now, in Washington, it is not even that. Brooks had no weapons and had not harmed or threatened to harm a soul.  Although she had told the officers she was seven months pregnant, they proceeded to use a Taser on her, not once but three times, causing her to scream with pain and leaving burn marks and permanent scars.
We have more Taser/Fourth Amendment/Section 1983 discussion here.  Our favorite post is entitled, "Tasers and the Fourth Amendment."  See also the post on Bryan v. McPherson.

Eighth Circuit Civil Rights Cases (3.25.2010)

The Clerk's official summary:
091814P.pdf    03/25/2010   Katie J. Felder   v.   Jason King
U.S. Court of Appeals Case No: 09-1814
U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota - Minneapolis
[PUBLISHED] [Benton, Author, with Loken, Chief Judge, and Gruender, Circuit Judge]
Civil case - civil rights. This appeal of an order denying the defendant police officers' motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction as the decision was fact-based and is not appropriate for interlocutory appeal.

091843P.pdf    03/25/2010   Eric Williams   v.   Moses Jackson
U.S. Court of Appeals Case No: 09-1843
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas - Helena
[PUBLISHED] [Melloy, Author, with Wollman and Riley, Circuit Judges]
Civil case - civil rights. In action alleging defendants willfully and maliciously exposed plaintiff, then an Arkansas state prisoner, to excessive ultraviolet radiation during his treatment for TB, the correction officer defendants, who allegedly purposefully removed a protective shield in retribution for a past incident, were not entitled to summary judgment based on qualified immunity as malicious and retaliatory exposure to a known harm without penological purpose would violate a prisoner's established rights; as a result, the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the correction officer defendants; the claims against the defendant maintenance supervisor alleged no more than negligence, and he was entitled to summary judgment. 

Solitary Confinement for 27 Years?

The University of Denver's Civil Rights Clinic had a lower-court victory in a very interesting case:

I’m very happy to report a significant prisoners’ rights victory from the Civil Rights Clinic. We represent Tommy Silverstein, a federal prisoner who has been held in solitary confinement for the past 27 years. In 2007, we filed suit on behalf of Mr. Silverstein challenging several of his conditions of confinement against the federal Bureau of Prisons. We filed claims arguing that Mr. Silverstein had not received due process during his long detention. Yet, most significantly, we claimed that the Government’s indefinite imprisonment of him under “no human contact” status constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment....
This morning, the Honorable Philip A. Brimmer in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado held that Mr. Silverstein’s procedural due process claim is allowed to proceed (for both injunctive relief and damages), as is his Eighth Amendment claim for injunctive relief (the damages claims were dismissed on QI grounds). The decision on the Eighth Amendment is one of only two or three in the entire country where a court has held that solitary confinement alone is enough to state a claim for cruel and unusual punishment, even absent mental illness or other physical harm. We anticipate and hope that this decision will have a positive impact on the ability of litigators across the country to challenge the disturbing trend of holding individuals in solitary confinement indefinitely. 
You may read the opinion here.  (Hat tip: Alan K. Chen.)

Failure to Identify a Disability a Private Right of Action Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Nice law school hypothetical from the Ninth Circuit.  Does IDEA have rights-creating language, pursuant to Gonzaga University v. Doe?  See Compton Unified School District v. Addison (CA9) (here).

Civ Pro Meets Crim Pro

The New York Times has this report about a lawsuit alleging that the New York Public Defender system is inadequate.

Section 1983 Fourth Amendment Claims v. State Law False Arrest Claims

File those pendent state law claims, California lawyers:

While the existence of probable cause renders the arrest reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, and thus constitutional, more is needed to authorize Edgerly’s custodial arrest under state law. Cf. People v. McKay, 41 P.3d 59, 71 (Cal. 2002) (holding that state arrest procedures do not limit the constitutionality of arrests under the Fourth Amendment, but emphasizing that that holding “in no way countenance[s] violations of state arrest procedure,” as “[v]iolation of those rights exposes the peace officers and their departments to civil actions seeking injunctive or other relief”). As noted above, a first offense under section 602.8(a) is punishable only as an infraction and, under California law, “[i]n all cases . . . in which a person is arrested for an infraction,” custodial arrest is authorized “[o]nly if the arrestee refuses to sign a written promise [to appear], has no satisfactory identification, or refuses to provide a thumbprint or fingerprint.” Cal. Penal Code § 853.5(a).
Here, because the Officers did not testify that Edgerly met any of these three requirements, or that they had reason to believe that he previously violated section 602.8(a), the custodial arrest was not authorized by state law. Further, because this limitation on arrests for mere infractions was clearly established by statutory law, the officers did not have “reasonable cause to believe the arrest was lawful” under state law, and they are not entitled to immunity from civil liability. See Cal. Penal Code § 847(b)(1) (providing that officers areentitled to immunity from false arrest claims if “the arrest waslawful” or the officers had “reasonable cause to believe thearrest was lawful”); see also O’Toole v. Superior Court, 44Cal. Rptr. 3d 531, 548-49 (Cal. Ct. App. 2006) (noting thatpolice officers are not granted governmental immunity forfalse arrest or false imprisonment under California law, but that California Penal Code section 847 protects them from civil liability under certain circumstances). We therefore reverse and remand for further proceedings on this state lawclaim.
Edgerly v. San Francisco (CA9) (here).

Section 1983 Cases in the United States Supreme Court in 2009

Sheldon H. Nahmod has an excellent video presentation available for viewing.  Click here.

Section 1983 and IDEA (Payne v. Peninsula School District)

Whoa.  Some cases speak for themselves.  In a split panel opinion, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that exhaustion was required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) when a teacher locked an autistic student in a closet.  After the autistic child crapped and pissed himself, some whack-job school teacher claimed, "Locking autistic children up is how we educate them."  The Ninth Circuit - two judges, anyway - bought that argument.  Payne v. Peninsula School District (CA9) (here).

Judge Noonan, dissenting, clearly gets the best of the argument.  In a sentence: Just because something happens at school to an autistic child doesn't mean the IDEA applies.

This case needs to be reheard en banc.  At least some judge needs to give the case briefs a look.  Why does the opinion mention Section 1983 and IDEA causes of action when the panel dismisses the case under the IDEA?

My knowledge is fuzzy, but isn't Blanchard v. Morton School District (CA9) still good law?  Under Blanchard, IDEA rights are not enforceable under Section 1983.  Assuming that's the case, why didn't the panel discuss the separate causes of action under Section 1983?

Someone help me out.  Is Blanchard still good law?  Or is a Section 1983 action now merged with an IDEA cause of action  (not a rhetorical question; help me out)?  Even if the causes of action have been merged, the student has a separate cause of action for the lock-up.

If an autistic kid were sexually assaulted by a school teacher, he'd be able to sue under substantive due process/Section 1983.  If an an autistic child was denied food or medicine, he'd be able to sue under Section 1983.  In Payne, an autistic kid was locked in a closet - euphemistically called a "safe room, a roughly 5′ x 6′ roomlocated within the special education classroom."  Locking a child up on a closet is conscience-shocking behavior, and therefore is actionable under Section 1983.

This case desperately needs reheard.  And I say this as a major critic of the IDEA.  The IDEA is a way for rich parents to scam school systems out of money.  Even a critic of the IDEA can see the problem with allowing teachers to hide behind the IDEA when they make conscience-shocking decisions like locking a seven-year-old child up.

Religious Organizations Can Exploit Suckers (Rosas v. The Corporation of the Catholic Church)

Am I the only one who cracks up when churches say, "Keep your government out of our affairs!" when a law of general applicability is applied to them; but who also sue to allow full access to public facilities and other generally-available fora?  Church and state should be kept separate when it benefits the church - and at no other time.  See Rosas v. The Corporation of the Catholic Church (here).

Anyhow, some chump was fooled into believing he'd burn in Hell if he didn't slave away for the Church.  Later he got hip and attempted to have the law applied to the Catholic Church.  Good luck with that, right?

He lost:

“The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.” Everson v. Bd. ofEduc., 330 U.S. 1, 18 (1947). The interplay between the First Amendment’s Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses creates an exception to an otherwise fully applicable statute if the statute would interfere with a religious organization’semployment decisions regarding its ministers. Bollard v. Cal.Province of the Soc’y of Jesus, 196 F.3d 940, 944, 946-47(9th Cir. 1999). 
This “ministerial exception” helps to preservethe wall between church and state from even the mundane government intrusion presented here. In this case, plaintiff Cesar Rosas seeks pay for the overtime hours he worked as a seminarian in a Catholic church in Washington. The district court correctly determined that the ministerial exception bars Rosas’s claim and dismissed the case on the pleadings. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291,1 and we affirm.
Nice.

By the way, this case will get plenty of media play.  It will probably go en banc.  The ministerial exception was incorrectly applied, and thus the case was wrongly decided.  Telling a church that is must pay overtime is not telling a church whom it may hire as ministers.

Telling the Catholic Church that is must ordain women because Title VII prohibits employment discrimination is quite different from saying, "You must pay overtime wages."  The counter-argument is that churches often encourage service.  Fine.  But requiring a church to pay overtime doesn't end volunteer work.

I volunteer.  I get paid nothing.  The wage-and-hour laws simply do not apply because I am a volunteer.   I have also worked internships - no pay, no complaints, no issues.

Demanding that the Catholic Church actually pay overtime wages thus has absolutely nothing to do with the ministerial exception.  The Church is still free to discriminate against women and gays.  The Church is still free to inspire and encourage a culture of volunteerism.  The Church may not, under the ministerial exception, refuse to pay overtime.

In any event, it's unlikely that today's panel will have the last word on this issue.

Fair Housing Act and Sexual Harassment

Not a 1983 case, but interesting nonetheless.  Quigley v. Winter (CA8) (here):

[PUBLISHED] [Riley, Author, with Hansen and Gruender, Circuit Judges] Civil case - civil rights. A claim for hostile housing environment created by sexual harassment is actionable by the tenant under the Fair Housing Act; there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict that defendant subjected plaintiff to unwelcome sexual harassment and that the harassment was so pervasive or severe as to interfere with or deprive her of her right to use or enjoy her home; jury verdict for plaintiff on her quid pro quo sexual harassment claim affirmed; evidence was sufficient to support jury's verdict that plaintiff was subjected to coercion, intimidation and interference with her housing rights; instructions on discriminatory housing practices claim were not erroneous; challenges to evidentiary rulings rejected; district court did not err in submitting punitive damages issue to the jury as defendant admitted he knew sexual harassment was unlawful, that he was an experienced landlord and that he knew the lease agreement forbade discrimination based on sex; $250,000 punitive damage was excessive, but the district court erred in reducing it to $20,527; the court finds an appropriate award is $54,750, which is four times the compensatory damage award; attorneys' fees award reduced to $78,044. Judge Gruender, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

Guggenheim v. City of Goleta Goes En Banc

Back in September I noted that, "This split panel decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will likely go en banc."  And it is going en banc (order).

Claiming psychic powers would be nice.  Instead, an understanding of bias allowed me to recognize that the case would likely go en banc.

Property rights are the bastard child of the Constitution.  Liberal judges do not like opinions giving effect to the Takings Clause.

It's pretty amazing that abortion can be read into the Constitution; where as property rights - which are specifically mentioned - seem to not exist.

Norse v. City of Santa Cruz (the Nazi Salute Case) Goes En Bacn

Today the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to hear Norse v. City of Santa Cruz en banc (order).  Our prior coverage is here.

Justice Clarence Thomas' View of the Eighth Amendment

Linda Greenhouse shares her production of Two Minute Hate at the New York Times. For a deeper look into Justice Thomas' views on the Eighth Amendment, read Hope v. Pelzer a/k/a the hitching post case.  It's here, and let's just say reading it should make you very happy to not be in Justice Thomas' prison.

Ninth Circuit Encourages Prosecutorial Misconduct in Valdovinos v. McGrath?

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a habeas petition in a case where a prosecutor and police officer withheld exculpatory evidence.  In other words, the prosecutor broke the law.  After reading Valdovinos v. McGrath (CA9) (here), you will be given a one-question exam.  Read careful.

Who was the prosecutor who broke the law?  
Like me, you'd get an "F" on this examination.  You would learn that Detective Ernesto Alcantar hid exculpatory evidence in a case involving eye-witness identification.  Federal judges always identify the miscreant police officers.  When it comes to identifying the lawyer who hid evidence, judges mention "the prosecution."  Like this:
At the preliminary hearing, Valdovinos’s defense attorney, in the presence of the prosecutor [Who is this prosecutor?] and Detective Alcantar [there's the poor cop's name again] ,requested a blackboard preliminary hearing, in which a screen prevents the witnesses from seeing the defendant. Defense counsel made the request based on a review of police reports indicating the witnesses had never seen a lineup or photo lineup. Neither the prosecutor [Who is this man or woman?] nor Detective Alcantar [hello again] informed the court or defense counsel that the witnessesalready had seen photo lineups including Valdovinos’s photo, or that [one eye-witness] tentatively had identified Valdovinos’s photo whereas [another eye-witness] had chosen different photographs. The courtdenied the defense attorney’s request.
If you read the entire opinion, you'll learn that the entire case against the defendant was based on eye-witness identification.  Wrongful eye-witness identifications are the leading cause of wrongful convictions.  You will learn that one of the eye-witnesses put someone other than the defendant at the scene of the crime.

Think about that.   An eye-witness said that the defendant was not present during the shooting.

A prosecutor hid this evidence form the defense, in violation of the Constitution, and in violation of the California Rules of Professional Conduct.

The Ninth Circuit panel found the prosecutors' conduct so prejudicial to the administration of justice that they granted a habeas petition.  Yet the panel never referred the prosecutor to the California State Bar for investigation.  The panel did not even identify the prosecutor by name.

Why do courts refuse to identify prosecutors by name when prosecutors have committed prosecutorial misconduct?

What does a prosecutor risk by violating the Constitution and Rules of Professional Conduct?  The odds of being caught are extremely low: If you hide something that no one knows to look for, how will they find it?  And even if you're caught, the courts will keep you anonymous.


Prosecutorial misconduct should be treated as the serious violation of the law that it is.  Yet refusing to sanction prosecutorial misconduct - even, refusing even to name unethical prosecutors in a judicial opinion - at best excuses prosecutorial misconduct; at worst, it encourages it.

How Dangerous is Policing, Really?

A common theme in civil rights cases is officer discretion.  Police, we are told, must be allowed to violate our rights because their job is so dangerous.  Is policing really that dangerous?

"Of course it is, Mike!" you'll scream at me.  Yet you'd be wrong.  As thinking people, we must always elevate statistics over sentiment.

Each year a media outlet will produce a list of the most dangerous jobs.  Today the Business Insider has the latest data.  According to the actual data, policing is substantially less dangerous than crab fishing, logging, iron working, electrical working, and many other professions.  See for yourself.

According to the FBI (data here), only 41 police officers were murdered in the line of duty in 2008.  "Only?!" Certainly every officer death is a tragedy, yet in 2005 (the most-recent data I could find) were nearly 700,000 police officers.

Most crime rates are measured by incidents-per-100,000: "How many murders are there for every 100,000 people in geographic region," the statistician asks.  In San Fransisco in 2008, there were 52 murders.  (Data set; scroll down.)  San Fransisco has a population of almost 800,000.

Assuming for the sake of argument that we have the same - rather than a greater - number of police officers in 2008 that we had in 2005, consider this: 41 police officers out of 700,000 were murdered.  In San Francisco, 52 citizens out of 800,000 were murdered.

Simply living in San Francisco is more dangerous than being a police officer.

Policing is a valuable profession.  Who suggests otherwise?  I certainly do not going around saying, "F-ck the police."

Elevating the police above all others, however, is destructive to civil society.  It is also superstitious.  Policing is not nearly as dangerous a profession as defenders of police misconduct claim it to be.  Like many jobs, policing has its risk.  Policing is not so dangerous, however, that officers who have sworn to uphold law should be able to violate the law with impunity.

Pleading Civil Rights Cases Under Iqbal

Here's a post of interest from a blog covering civil rights law in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Provoking a Confrontation and the Fourth Amendment

Here's a quirk within the law of deadly force:

Where a police officer “intentionally or recklessly provokes a violent confrontation, if the provocation is an independent Fourth Amendment violation, he maybe held liable for his otherwise defensive use of deadlyforce.”  Billington v. Smith, 292 F.3d 1177, 1189 (9th Cir.2002). If an officer intentionally or recklessly violates a suspect's constitutional rights, then the violation may be a provocation creating a situation in which force was necessary and such force would have been legal but for the initial violation.
Espinosa v. San Francisco (CA9) (here).  The doctrine makes sense, but seems too even-handed and common sense to exist.  In Espinosa, a Ninth Circuit panel applied it to a police officer who illegally entered a home and awoke a sleeping man.
In this case, the district court did not err in findingthat there are genuine issues of fact regarding whether theofficers intentionally or recklessly provoked a confrontationwith Sullivan. Evidence strongly suggests that the initial entry into the apartment by Officer Morgado violated Sullivan’s Fourth Amendment rights. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, there is evidence that the illegal entry created a situation which led to the shooting and required the officers to use force that might have otherwise been reasonable. See Alexander v. City and County of San Francisco, 29 F.3d 1355, 1366 (9th Cir. 1994) (holding officers provoked a confrontation where they entered a man’shouse without a warrant and this violation provoked the man to shoot at the officers). Because there is a genuine issue of fact regarding whether the defendants intentionally or recklessly provoked a violent confrontation, the district did not err in denying defendants’ summary judgment motion on this issue. See id.
Under the provocation-of-conflict doctrine, even if they were telling the truth about seeing a gun in the unarmed man's hand, they might still be liable.  After shooting the unarmed man, the cops in Espinosa of course claimed that they saw a black object in the unarmed man's hand.
Officer Keesor stated that he shot because he believed that he saw something black in Sullivan’s hand that looked like a gun. Officer Alvis stated that she shot because she thought she saw something in Sullivan’s hand and that she saw him move his right arm. Sullivan was unarmed.
Aren't police trained to identify firearms?  If so, why are all of these unarmed people being shot?  Might the more rational explanation be that police officers routinely lie about these mysterious black objects?

Cops-as-Soldiers

Framing is a psychological principle thought of as a persuasive technique, though framing is much more influential in our own lives.  Framing changed conduct.

A police officers soldiers or protectors?  How a police officer views himself will determine whether innocent people live or die.  Espinosa v. San Francisco (CA9) (here) is a classic example of the cop-as-soldier frame:

Officer Alvis climbed into the attic with her gun drawn. Officers Morgado and Keesor entered the attic after Officer Alvis with their guns drawn as well. It was dark, but Officers Alvis and Morgado had flashlights. Officer Alvis shouted that she saw Sullivan. An officer responded over the radio “Hey,why don’t we just pull back really quick, set up a perimeter and just try to get him later.” Officer Alvis then shouted  “Cover both closets. I have him at gunpoint. He’s not going anywhere. . . .” 
No one was in Espinosa was in any danger.  The man police killed was not holding anyone hostage.  He was trapped in an attic - where he had been sleeping.  The police didn't even have a good reason to be in the man's apartment.

Painted on police cars is, "to protect and serve."  Whom were police protecting when they drew their guns on a sleeping man?  Whom were police serving when they shot an unarmed man?

Modern police forces have become militarized, as Radley Balko covers in detail here.  Police officers are not trained to protect and serve; they are trained to shoot first, and ask questions later.

In a military setting, collateral damage is recognized as justifiable.  Innocent people die to further the military mission.  Even in just wars, collateral damage is inevitable.  ("As tragic as it is, collateral damage to innocents is an inescapable consequence of war. Catholic theology recognizes this. It applies to such situations a well-established principle known as the law of double-effect. According to this law it is permissible to undertake an action which has two effects, one good and one evil, provided that certain conditions are met.")

What just war are police fighting on American soil?  Why has the police frame shifted from that of the beat cop who knows his neighborhood and interacts with the public, to armed-and-dangerous soldiers who illegal enter homes and shoot to kill?  

Whatever the cases, the effect is clear: Police do not view themselves as protectors and defenders.  Why then should we?

Civil Rights Lawsuit for Daycare Closing

McBeth v. Himes (CA10) (here) is probably a must-read for those of you who do retaliation cases.  I'm going to need to sit down with it.  Here's what you'll have to look forward to:

While we do not hold that the Hartman rule is applicable to “ordinary” retaliation claims, we do think that the logic of the rule necessitates its application here, where “multi-layered causation” complicates the court’s inquiry into whether the defendant’s retaliatory animus caused the adverse action that harmed the plaintiff.
In McBeth, a daycare worker had to close down operations after her license was suspended.  Why was her daycare license suspended?  Well, that's the issue.  The plaintiff claimed that her license was suspended in retaliation for her lawyering up when police asked for her clients' names and addresses.

Good luck proving retaliation where there is "multi-layered causation."  The cynical among us would call "multi-layered causation" diffusion of responsibility.  If you want to avoid a retaliation lawsuit, just convince someone else to assist with your dirty work.  Involving everyone means no one will be held responsible.  Pretty cool, isn't it?

PLRA Legal Fees

Keup v. Hopkins (CA8) (here) is a reminder why lawyers should rarely file civil rights lawsuits on behalf of prisoners - at least if you want to keep the lights on.

In Keup, a prisoner won his lawsuit against various prison officials. Because the prisoner's injury was more abstract that monetary, the prisoner was awarded nominal damages - just one dollar. Nevertheless, the prisoner did prove that his rights had been violated.

Under 42 U.S.C. 1988, a prisoner is entitled to have the defendants pay his legal fees. Under 42 U.S.C. 1997, those fees are capped. In cases where nominal damages are awarded, the lawyer is only entitled to $1.50 in legal fees:

The district court awarded Keup approximately $25,000 in attorney fees eventhough the court determined Keup was entitled to only $1.00 in nominal damages.  The district court’s ruling is contrary to governing precedent. Section 1997e(d)(2)provides, “If the award of attorney’s fees is not greater than 150 percent of thejudgment, the excess shall be paid by the defendant.” We have repeatedly construedthis “awkwardly worded” statute to cap awards of attorney fees in prisoner rightscases to 150% of the monetary damages awarded.  When the plaintiff only receivesnominal damages of $1.00, § 1997e(d)(2) caps attorney fees at $1.50.  See, e.g., Royal v. Kautzky, 375 F.3d 720, 725-26 (8th Cir. 2004) (referring to the statute as“awkwardly worded” and affirming an attorney fees award of $1.50); Foulk, 262 F.3dat 704 (similar); see also Pearson v. Welborn, 471 F.3d 732, 742-44 (7th Cir. 2006) (holding cap at § 1997e(d)(2) applied to a prisoner who was entitled to nominaldamages); Robbins v. Chronister, 435 F.3d 1238, 1239 (10th Cir. 2006) (en banc)(similar); Walker v. Bain, 257 F.3d 660, 667 (6th Cir. 2001) (similar); Boivin v.Black, 225 F.3d 36, 40-41 (1st Cir. 2000) (similar).
No thanks.

The Origins of Police Misconduct

The psychological literature on "evil" generally leads us to one thesis: Most of us become evil.  See, e.g., The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (here).

While there are sociopaths among us, most of us are socialized into being law-abiding and mostly decent.  Put in the right situation, we can become evil.  A fun illustration is with the Stanford prison experiment - which was chillingly depicted in Das Experiment.  (You must rent The Experiment, which is available on Netflix.)  

What's all of this got to do with Section 1983?  It has everything to do with Section 1983.

Police officers do not start off evil.  Yet officers regularly brutalize civilians and lie in court - so-called testilying.  Even the "good" cops do nothing to stop the bad cops, instead acquiescing to the culture of corruption.  One reason good cops go bad is because pressures from on high.

In this insightful interview with ABC News, an on-the-beat cop explains how police quotas lead to false arrests and wrongful convictions.  Anyone concerned with our judicial system should check out the story:

Doe v. Kamehameha Schools: Ninth Circuit Disregards Equal Protection

Does anything think that the Ninth Circuit would have held that these threats were no big deal, if they had been leveled against black students?

“Good that the judge ordered them to make these little brats [sic] names known to the public, so they can be tormented by their fellow students and general public.” Another posting stated that these “4 kids . . . will need 10 bodyguards lol.” Another read, “Sacrifice them!!!!!!!!,” and another: “And I’d say the majority of‘us’ don’t want anything bad to happen to the kids. We all realize that they are mere pawns in this mess caused by‘adults.’ Now stringing up those scum lawyers is not such a bad idea. (Don’t be scared, it’s in the Halloween spirit).”
Doe v. Kamehameha Schools (CA9) (here).  Hawaii is a rough place for non-natives: Whites are known as the h-word, or haole.  Indeed, Doe v. Kamehameha Schools raises Jim Crowesque issues, namely, maybe students be denied entry into the best schools on account of their race.  Even the sober Shaun Martin is outraged.