Friday, March 18, 2011

Dick Cheney's Epilogue: Yet ANOTHER Step Closer To Being Deposed In Colorado First Amendment Case

Here's a belated St. Patrick's Day present -- if Dick Cheney lives long enough to be deposed. This opinion was handed down on March 14, 2011 (a 42 page PDF file, of 136 kbs).

And so, the day when Dick Cheney will be deposed, and asked under oath, what he did that day in 2006, in Beaver Creek, Colorado, to have Steven Howards arrested for his simple, and first amendment protected act of "petitioning his government, for the redress of his greivances", draws nearer.

The interlocotory appeal, seeking a summary dismissal of Mr. Howards' case, has been denied -- his first amendment claim may go forward; thus he may depose Dick Cheney.

. . . .Steven Howards brought the present action alleging, inter alia, that defendants Secret Service Agents unlawfully arrested him in violation of his First and Fourth Amendment rights. Defendants moved for summary judgment on the basis that they were immune from suit. Following a hearing on the merits, the district court concluded fact issues precluded the grant of qualified immunity as well as summary judgment. The case is now before us on defendants’
interlocutory appeal from the district court’s denial of their motion for qualified
immunity. . . .

Prior to Hartman, the law on retaliatory arrests was clear in the Tenth Circuit. See DeLoach, 922 F.2d at 620; see also Greene v. Barber, 310 F.3d 889, 895 (6th Cir. 2002) (relying on DeLoach and explaining “the existence of probable cause is not determinative of the constitutional question if. . . the plaintiff was arrested in retaliation for his having engaged in constitutionally protected speech”). Hartman did nothing to disturb this law. The fact that some of our sister circuits disagree with us on this issue does not bind us, nor does it force us to find the law was no longer clearly established in this circuit. See Garcia, 817 F.2d at 658.

It is well established that an act which is lawful under the Fourth Amendment may still violate other provisions of the Constitution. For example, in Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 809 (1996), the Court considered whether a traffic stop that was supported by probable cause could violate the Fourth Amendment when the reason for the stop was pretextual. The two black male defendants were arrested for possessing illegal drugs after their car was stopped by vice officers in a “high drug area.” Id. at 808. The defendants conceded the police had probable cause to believe that they had violated local traffic laws, but argued the traffic stop nonetheless should be held unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment, because the stop was pretextual and no reasonable officer would have stopped them for those traffic violations. . . .

Based on the record here, and in the absence of any argument from Agents Reichle and Doyle that Mr. Howards failed to present evidence to establish a First Amendment violation, see Nielander v. Bd. of Cnty. Comm’rs, 582 F.3d 1155, 1165 (10th Cir. 2009), we conclude the district court correctly denied these Agents’ motion for qualified immunity on Mr. Howards’ First Amendment claim for retaliatory arrest. . . .

Indeed. Now Mr. Howards will be able to seek answers from Mr. Cheney about his role in ordering Howards' arrest. Perfect. Do stay tuned.


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