Federal appellate panel a judicial joke
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeal continues its quest to be the least respected group of jurists in the United States with another decision worthy of ridicule. It recently ruled that police officers violated the 4th Amendment (Fisher v. City of San Jose) by not getting an arrest warrant before taking into custody a heavily armed and drunk suspect following a 12 hour standoff.
On October 23, 1999, Steven Fisher bought two 12 packs of beer and settled in at home, cleaning his 18 gun collection A security guard at the apartment called police when he felt Fisher's behavior became menacing
Officers surrounded his apartment and attempted to get Fisher to surrender. Fisher was mostly unresponsive, but did insist on talking about his Second Amendment rights.
He told the negotiator he would shoot her if she came into his apartment, and was seen pointing his rifle at surrounding officers. The apartment complex was evacuated, with one neighbor fleeing via a hole in cut into her apartment wall so she wouldn't have to come within rifle range of Fisher.
An all day effort to get Fisher out to give up included the throwing in of tear gas and flash bang grenades into the house. None had any effect. When Fisher finally emerged hours later, he had to be subdued with rubber bullets.
Sounds like a successful and peaceful resolution to a tense and dangerous situation.
Well, not according to Fisher, who sued claiming his civil rights were violated.
After an eight day jury trial, the jury wasted no time in telling Mr. Fisher to get lost, finding the officers did nothing wrong. The trial judge, however, reversed the jury verdict, ruling the cops violated the Fourth Amendment by not getting a warrant for Fisher's arrest.
Incredibly, the 9th Circuit agreed, holding the arrest illegal. In short, the 9th Circuit believes that officers in a prolonged standoff with a gun toting drunk threatening to kill officers need to ask a court if there is probable cause for an arrest.
The Constitution clearly does not require officers to get an arrest warrant for an armed, intoxicated and barricaded suspect who is threatening the lives of everybody within range of his guns. This ruling defies common sense and well established constitutional practice.
The 9th Circuit has been reversed so many times by the Supreme Court, it has been suggested two Supreme Court dockets are needed: one to reverse the 9th Circuit; and another to hear all other cases. Hopefully, this case will be added to the long list of those finding that the 9th Circuit got it completely wrong.
Hank Hernandez is general counsel for the Los Angeles Police Protective League. Formed in 1922, the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) represents the more than 9,000 dedicated and professional sworn members of the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPPL serves to advance the interests of LAPD officers through legislative and legal advocacy, political action and education. The LAPPL can be found on the Web at www.LAPD.com.
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