The Supreme Court in early October heard arguments that could have ripple effects for law enforcement throughout the country.
At issue is a ruling by a lower court that if upheld, would make officers personally liable for the decisions made on duty. The case in question involves a party in Washington, D.C., where a number of party-goers were arrested for trespassing. It was later determined that the participants didn’t know they were uninvited guests, and charges were dropped. They subsequently sued for being arrested, and a lower court held the police personably liable for $1 million in damages and legal fees.
Arrests are made and charges are dropped for a number of reasons; many have little or nothing to do with an officer’s actions. Often it is up to the prosecutor’s office to make the decision to pursue a case. A city or county attorney may simply decide not to file charges due to insufficient evidence, or for political implications.
Twenty-six states and the federal Justice Department are weighing in with a strong warning that allowing the lower-court ruling to stand would have “vast consequences” for law enforcement everywhere. We will continue to monitor this story and keep you updated.