"Right To Disobey Law," Says Deputy
- View Source"Right To Disobey Law,"Says Deputy Sheriff(We have the courts to thank for this attitude of law enforcement)I have said it many times before. There is a clear double standard that has been set up by our public servants. Just two days ago Paul Tuggy was talking with a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy about the requirement that a law enforcement officer must abide by the same laws as the general public. He became very belligerent declaring that he had the right to disobey the law even when he was not on the job in uniform.
Wonder why their thinking is so warped? There is a billboard campaign in LA County seeking applicants for the Sheriff's Dept. The banner reads, "Be a Star! Join the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department!" Whatever happened to serving the community? Whatever became of the mission of being a peace officer? Now we are lorded over by law enforcement and they don't even know much of that law. They only know how to enforce their will on the general public. Even many well-meaning
officers have a total misunderstanding of their role.
But then when you take the clear mandates of moral standards out of society you create the mess that results from the us against them mentality. Will we ever learn from our mistakes? God help us!
Barton A. Buhtz -General Manager, TruthRadioNetworkeclok@...
On Fri, 11 Aug 2000 17:29:00 -0700 "jail4judges"
9th Circuit Rules Murder Ok If It's Doing Your JobPetition asks appeals court to rehear Ruby Ridge case
Betsy Z. Russell - Staff writer
July 26, 2000
Should federal agents who killed a woman and child and wounded two men at Ruby Ridge be immune from prosecution or lawsuits simply because they were doing their jobs?
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has answered that question two different ways -- and it's now being asked to rule again.
"The case is highly significant, and raises issues of the greatest
importance and of national concern," said Stephen Yagman, a Los Angeles attorney. He is working with Boundary County Prosecutor Denise Woodbury in an attempt to prosecute FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi for manslaughter.
If Horiuchi can't be charged, Yagman said, "This changes the
entire law with respect to the use of force." During a standoff
between federal agents and separatist Randy Weaver at Weaver's
remote Ruby Ridge cabin in 1992, Horiuchi fired a single shot
that killed Weaver's wife, Vicki, and wounded family friend Kevin Harris. The shot came as Vicki Weaver was holding open the cabin door, her 10-month-old baby in her arms, to let Harris, Randy Weaver and his daughter Sara back inside.
In its petition for rehearing, the county said it could have
charged Horiuchi with second-degree murder instead of manslaughter. When Horiuchi fired, he was "mindlessly shooting to kill on sight, firing blindly a 200-yard shot through a door," the petition states. "Mrs. Weaver was killed by a wild-headed government sniper in violation of our Constitution, and still is dead."
The county tried to prosecute Horiuchi for Vicki Weaver's death, but a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court ruled in June that Horiuchi couldn't be charged. The county has asked the full federal appeals court to rehear that 2-1 decision, which included a sharply worded dissent.
Dissenting Judge Alex Kozinski wrote that the decision "throws a monkey wrench into our law governing the proper use of deadly force." He added, "Perhaps most troubling, the opinion waters down the constitutional standard for the use of deadly force by giving officers a license to kill even when there is no immediate threat to human life, so long as the suspect is
retreating to `take up a defensive position.' This has never been
the law in this circuit, or anywhere else I'm aware of, except in
James Bond movies. I fear this change in our long-standing law."
If the court agrees to rehear the case, it could take several
months. At the same time, Harris' $10 million civil lawsuit against
the federal government is also headed back to the 9th Circuit, after a U.S. district judge ruled last month that five of the eight agents Harris sued, including Horiuchi, must stand trial. All five appealed that ruling, and Harris in turn appealed the decision to
release three of the eight defendants.
To complicate the issue further, the 9th Circuit has already
ruled that the agents aren't immune from Harris' lawsuit. Horiuchi
appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the high
court declined to review it. The earlier ruling came in a slightly
different legal context, involving a motion to dismiss the case,
while the current maneuver is a motion for summary judgment.
Ellison Matthews, attorney for Harris, said, "I'm confident that we'll prevail on appeal." Harris' case had been scheduled to go to trial in Boise in two weeks. Now, because of the appeals, it will be delayed until next year.
The 9th Circuit's Horiuchi ruling came under the Supremacy
Clause of the Constitution, saying the state couldn't prosecute
Horiuchi for "actions taken in pursuit of his duties as a federal
law enforcement officer."
Its earlier decision in the Harris case dealt with "qualified
immunity," a similar concept. In the June ruling, the majority of
the court argued, "The two immunities are not the same, nor do they serve the same purposes. Immunity under the Supremacy Clause from state criminal prosecution may cover instances in which qualified immunity does not apply."
Kozinski responded, "This might be a plausible argument but for the fact that precisely the same test applies as to both: Did the officer act constitutionally? What protects an officer from civil and criminal liability is the lawfulness of his actions." If the
officer does something unlawful, Kozinski said, states should be
able to enforce their criminal laws.
Harris' lawsuit charges that federal agents violated his 4th
Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and excessive force. He also alleges battery and false imprisonment. The agents first confronted Harris, Weaver and Weaver's 14-year-old son Sam, who were all armed, at a crossroads near Weaver's cabin. The agents had Weaver under surveillance because he had failed to appear in court on a
After an agent shot Sam's dog, a yellow Labrador named Striker, a gun battle erupted between three agents and the trio. Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan and Sam both died. The next day, at the cabin, Horiuchi shot and wounded Randy Weaver and then fired the shot that killed Vicki Weaver and
Harris lay wounded in the cabin for nine more days, begging
Weaver and others to kill him to end his suffering. After Weaver
surrendered, both he and Harris stood trial and were acquitted of
killing Degan. Harris was cleared of all wrongdoing, though he
admitted he might have fired the shot that killed Degan during the
Weaver was convicted only of failure to appear in court, and
served 16 months in prison. Weaver and his three daughters sued the federal government, which settled his multimillion-dollar suit in 1995 for $3.1 million.
Betsy Z. Russell can be reached at (208) 336-2854 or by e-mail at
bzrussell@....J.A.I.L. (Judicial Accountability Initiative Law)
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