Thursday, April 03, 2003

One arrest, many claims, most dismissed

Judge Wilson of the W.D. Va. issued this opinion earlier this week, disposing of most of the constitutional claims of a woman who was arrested for driving without a license and proceeded to sue everyone from the arresting officer to the Circuit Court judge, and whose claims include a request for an injunction against Virginia State Police checkpoints. Judge Wilson dismissed the judges and the prosecutors as absolutely immune. He dismissed the "deliberate indifference" and "cruel and unusual punishment" claims against the state troopers and the Sheriff's Department for failure to state a claim, and likewise threw out the RICO, conspiracy, and injunction claims. The court took under advisement the excessive force claims against the two troopers.

The claim of deliberate indifference is that her jailers in Roanoke refused to let the plaintiff remove her contact lenses. The Court noted that neither the troopers nor the county jail could be responsible for what happened to plaintiff in the city jail. The judge decided to look at the videotape of plaintiff's arrest before deciding whether she could have an excessive force claim, or whether the officers might be entitled to qualified immunity - that is, if a reasonable officer could have believed that the level of force used by defendants would not violate the plaintiff's constitutional rights.

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