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Thread: Federal lawsuit question

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    Federal lawsuit question

    Is it possible in a federal lawsuit, such as has been filed by this organization, to file against the officers separately and jointly(assuming that's the correct phrase) against the officers and their employer? In other words if the city wants to settle and leave the suit against the officers ongoing, is that possible to do. Did that happen in this lawsuit? Thanks Mike

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    Two answers

    First, NO this didn't happen in the current suit against Madison. WCI is seeking an injunction to prevent the Chief from implementing the stated (STOP, Cuff, Seize, ID, Cite) policy.

    Second, YES that WAS part of suit against Racine. Racine offered a $10K judgment to get the city & officers off the hook for the unlawful arrest.

    If there is a civil suit against Madison for the unlawful arrest/harassment of the Madison-5, the city AND the individual officers will be defendants. That decision won't be made until after the disorderly charges are disposed of and WCI confers with our legal team.
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    Sounds good

    So you can, file jointly and separately against the officers? My thinking is that unless those individual officers have to pay personally, any settlement is unlikely to change this official misconduct.

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    Founder's Club Member bnhcomputing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slidelock View Post
    So you can, file jointly and separately against the officers? My thinking is that unless those individual officers have to pay personally, any settlement is unlikely to change this official misconduct.
    The courts have consistently held that an officer who knowingly and willingly violates your constitutional rights looses "qualified immunity" and is individually liable. That doesn't mean the city won't make an offer of judgment like Racine did.

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    Question

    "Offer of judgment"? Does that create precedence the same as a court judgment? If not I would want to continue the case against the officers. A judgment against those officers wouldn't have to be much to get the desired effect.

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    Precedence is not created by just any old court decision. Search on "legal precedent".

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    This Wiki article will give you the idea of how the common law, parallel and hierarchical judiciary system of our nation works.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precedent
    Ecclesiastes 10:2 - "A wise man's heart inclines him to the right, but the fool's heart to the left."

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    I must be blonde today

    I guess what I am asking, are the officers involved going to have personally make restitution?

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    Founder's Club Member bnhcomputing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slidelock View Post
    I guess what I am asking, are the officers involved going to have personally make restitution?
    The lawsuit(s) do seek monetary damages from the individual officers, but that doesn't mean they will actually pay. If an "offer of judgment" is made, and as a condition, the officers are "off the hook," then depending on the other conditions/terms they may be released from a financial burden.

    Do I think they should each have to individually pay, HECK YEA! Will the court look at it the same way? UNKNOWN.

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    Hence my question

    Is it possible to file jointly and separately against the officers? If so, you could accept the cities settlement and not necessarily against the officers. Then they gotta pay themselves. I hope. So my question is, can it be done?

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    Founder's Club Member bnhcomputing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slidelock View Post
    Is it possible to file jointly and separately against the officers? If so, you could accept the cities settlement and not necessarily against the officers. Then they gotta pay themselves. I hope. So my question is, can it be done?
    It IS possible to settle with the municipality and continue on with the officers. However, most UNIONS wouldn't react well to the municipality throwing the officers under the bus so-to-speak, so to my knowledge it's never been done. To my knowledge, the municipality stands with the officers especially when they are "following orders" so any offer of judgment would include releasing both the municipality and the officers.

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    Frustrating

    I keep asking the same questions over and over
    (1) Can you file jointly and separately against leo and their employers
    (2)Accept the employer settlement, refuse the one for the officers.
    Thereby forcing leo to pay their own bills?

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    huh

    filing a 42 usc 1983 action against the officers (removes their implied immunity)
    thereby negating their insurance.
    they have to pay out of their own pockets.
    see st. john V. alamagordo
    21000$ out of court settlement.
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    “If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”

    Stand up for your Rights,, They have no authority on their own...

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    Founder's Club Member bnhcomputing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slidelock View Post
    I keep asking the same questions over and over
    (1) Can you file jointly and separately against leo and their employers YES
    (2)Accept the employer settlement, refuse the one for the officers.
    Thereby forcing leo to pay their own bills? YES
    You CAN do both but as I stated, no offer of judgment will come forward without covering the officer, it just isn't done to my knowledge.

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    Aaaaargh!

    Let me try a different tack. I am not a lawyer so bear with me. My understanding is a settlement carries no precedent. A judgment however can create precedent. IMHO the only outcome that has any real meaning is a judgement against the officers they have to pay themselves. Anybody want to opine on that likelihood of that happening in this case?

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    Quote Originally Posted by slidelock View Post
    Let me try a different tack. I am not a lawyer so bear with me. My understanding is a settlement carries no precedent. A judgment however can create precedent. IMHO the only outcome that has any real meaning is a judgement against the officers they have to pay themselves. Anybody want to opine on that likelihood of that happening in this case?
    In the case of Racine, we did not settle, we received a judgment.

    As Doug points out:

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Huffman View Post
    Precedence is not created by just any old court decision. Search on "legal precedent".
    At Federal District Court, decisions are not published and are not binding precedent. How much "weight" do they hold? From a legal binding precedent standpoint "not much" From a persuasive precedent standpoint "depends who you ask".

    From a legal standpoint its "persuasive" precedent. Other courts, other judges can look at it (though its not binding) and consider it (though its not a published decision, so they may not even be able to find it) and decide something totally different. Appellate court begins to establish binding precedent in the "stare decisis" sense of precedent.

    In the case of Racine, the precedent set was more of a regional awareness for other municipalities that unlawful arrest given the facts of that case resulted in a judgement against Racine. IANALBWHTOR (I am not a lawyer but we have them on retainer) but its my understanding that you won't likely see "Wisconsin Carry v. City of Racine et al" in future case law as its a Federal District Court Decision which is non-binding legal precedent and an unpublished decision.

    What you SHOULD see is that other municipalities who see the news media stories regarding the case will be on notice that they face similar repercussions for similar unlawful actions of their officers.

    Of course, as Madison demonstrates, not all municipalities are deterred.

    I will get you a specific answer to your question regarding what, and how you can get an individual officer to have to pay out of pocket for their unlawful conduct while they are performing their duties under the authority of the department they work for.
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    Thanks!

    Here, in Ohio, we face similar problems and I have been trying to get the answer to this specific question. I look forward to what you come up with. Thanks again. Mike

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    It Appears

    that an "Offer of Judgment" is essentially an offer of settlement with benefits/penalties. For the Defendants, although they have a "judgment" entered against them it is essentially meaningless in terms of future issues. In return, they put the Plaintiffs in a box. If the Plaintiffs do not accept, even if they win they would be liable for costs from the point of offer if their "winnings" did not exceed the amount of the Defendant's offer. No issues are decided and no declaratory rulings and/or injunctions from the bench. The city/PD/etc. are out a few bucks (not their own) and are free to continue their bad acts. Shouldn't the goal be a judgment/ruling by the judge saying something like:

    1. The PD acted unlawfully when they (demanded ID under threat of arrest).
    2. The PD is enjoined from (approaching OC Joe without RAS).
    3. OC Joe is awarded $50,000 plus attorney's fees and costs.
    4. Court declares that simple OC cannot constitute any part the basis for a DC charge.

  19. #19
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    To answer the question of how to "make" the officers pay, the answer is "we have no control over who pays".

    We are suing the officers as individuals, but we can't stop the municipality they work for from paying the judgement on their behalf.

    For the Defendants, although they have a "judgment" entered against them it is essentially meaningless in terms of future issues.
    I guess it depends on what you consider meaningless.

    The $10,000 payout wasn't meaningless to Racine and the people of Racine who were not happy about paying for their officers breaking the law. Keep in mind these municipalities spend lots of $ on attorneys as well.

    Even if you go to decision, at federal district court, its non-binding precedent and unpublished decisions.

    Unfortunately there is no silver bullet when dealing with police officers/departments that operate outside the law but rather a multitude of tactis, civil suits, public awareness/pressure, etc.
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    Many Decisions of Federal District Courts

    are published. Go to any decent law library and you'll find volume after volume of the Federal Supplement. There are many reasons decisions aren't published but a published decision would have substantial influence in the same court (e.g. the Eastern District of Wisconsin) and possibly beyond. If a deal is cut, whatever you call it, the decision almost certainly will not be published. Of course, a decision of the Court of Appeals would be much better, which is why these suits should be taken all the way to the appellate level if possible. Madison certainly knew about Racine. Were they hesitant? They don't care about money. They don't care about public opinion. They will care about an violating an order from a federal judge. It's the only thing that will put their personal liberty in jeopardy. It isn't critical if a decision is published or non-binding precedent because it is binding on the parties in the case at bar.



    Quote Originally Posted by Wisconsin Carry, Inc. - Chairman View Post
    To answer the question of how to "make" the officers pay, the answer is "we have no control over who pays".

    We are suing the officers as individuals, but we can't stop the municipality they work for from paying the judgement on their behalf.



    I guess it depends on what you consider meaningless.

    The $10,000 payout wasn't meaningless to Racine and the people of Racine who were not happy about paying for their officers breaking the law. Keep in mind these municipalities spend lots of $ on attorneys as well.

    Even if you go to decision, at federal district court, its non-binding precedent and unpublished decisions.

    Unfortunately there is no silver bullet when dealing with police officers/departments that operate outside the law but rather a multitude of tactis, civil suits, public awareness/pressure, etc.
    Last edited by apjonas; 10-11-2010 at 10:52 AM. Reason: stylistics

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by apjonas View Post
    Madison certainly knew about Racine. Were they hesitant? They don't care about money. They don't care about public opinion. They will care about an violating an order from a federal judge. It's the only thing that will put their personal liberty in jeopardy. It isn't critical if a decision is published or non-binding precedent because it is binding on the parties in the case at bar.
    Madison sure did know (or find out) about Racine in the aftermath of the obstruction tickets. Why do you think they rescinded them????

    Madison also sure did know about Judge Adelman's DECISION in the Gonzalez case. That is what they are precariously relying on to think they'll get away with the DC charges.

    I know this because that's what the MPD spokesperson put in front of me before the panel discussion I had with the Madison Police Chief.

    Of course, the facts of that case are totally different and that decision is on appeal. Its still not keeping the MPD from relying on it to charge the Madison 5 with DC.

    As to anything more specific on WCI's legal strategies, I'll just say that we have some of the most qualified carry-rights attorneys in the country and as far as postings on an internet message forum, I'll leave it there.
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  22. #22
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    As to anything more specific on WCI's legal strategies, I'll just say that we have some of the most qualified carry-rights attorneys in the country and as far as postings on an internet message forum, I'll leave it there.


    Sunglasses will be available at several locations, once the matter is done in our favor, you are reminded not to directly look at the flash.

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    ??Flash from the Neuralyzer, the "flashy blinky thingie"?

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    When you file a lawsuit you name all the defendants in the suit. For instance you name the state, the city, the police department the mayor, the chief of police and all of the LEO as individuals. What you are doing is filing a lawsuit against each one of them as an individual at one time under one case rather than 15 different lawsuits.

    You get an offer of settlement. You do not have to accept the settlement and can continue on with your lawsuit or settle. Suppose the city offers you $100,000 to settle. In the conditions of the settlement you agree to drop the lawsuit against all of the other defendants. You do not have to accept it. The city can offer you $50,000 to drop the lawsuit against the city with no stipulation that the suit against the others be dropped. You can take the $50,000 and continue on with your lawsuit agains the other defendants.

    On the other hand you do not get any offers to settle or you refuse all offers and it goes to a trial by jury. The jury finds in your favor and they award you $500,007. The city is to pay $500,000 and 7 of the other 14 defenants are to pay $1 each and 7 of them are found not liable and do not have to pay anything. Or the jury could award you $250,000 from each of the two officers and nothing from any of the other defendants.

    To answer your question, if you file suit against 5 different people/agencies/corporations you can accept or reject any settlement proposed by them. That way you have control over who has to pay. When you wind up in court you have no control over who has to pay. There is no way to force the LEO's to have to pay anything out of their pocket. You can file an individual lawsuit against each LEO and the city but the judge does have the authority to combine the lawsuits. In short making a LEO have to pay out of his pocket is hard but can be done.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Huffman View Post
    ??Flash from the Neuralyzer, the "flashy blinky thingie"?
    good comeback doug- touche'.........you still got it in you!

    yeah, they'll use the flashy blinky thing to try and erase their actions from the public's conscience, doubt it will work on me though.

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