Tuesday, March 13, 2007

On leave to amend, stigmatization, and Mooks

In Sciolino v. City of Newport News, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Motz reversed Judge Jackson for denying the plaintiff leave to amend his section 1983 claim against the city and its police chief, Chief Mook, based on the murky area of the deprivation of "liberty" in the form of stigmatization by the government. Judge Wilkinson dissents at some length, complaining that the majority opinion admits of the possibility that "a document in a government file drawer can violate a constitutional liberty interest in reputation and future employment."

What struck my imagination, of course, was the name of the Chief, recalling Law and Order's Lennie Briscoe, who once said the answer to question what did the police detective do today was that he had "arrested a couple of mooks." The term "mook" was previously unknown to me. The only Mook I had heard of was the fellow who hit the ball through Bill Buckner's legs in the 1986 World Series, the famous image of which you can buy framed for $199.

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