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This might be a big victory: A federal appeals court has ruled that a lawsuit by two former CIA agents can go forward against the police for an improper home drug raid against the family because they happened to have a tomato garden.
The police raided the home, threatened the couple and their children, all because they had shopped for garden supplies and had brewed their tea from loose tea leaves. From the court ruling:
This week, the three judge panel — Carlos Lucero, Gregory Phillips and Nancy Moritz — ruled against the state, sending the case back to district court. What’s notable is that the 100-page decision pushed back hard against the claim police officers are immune from legal responsibility if they are just doing their jobs. “The defendants in this case caused an unjustified governmental intrusion into the Hartes’ home based on nothing more than junk science, an incompetent investigation, and a publicity stunt,” Lucero wrote in his opinion. “The Fourth Amendment does not condone this conduct, and neither can I.”
The judge went on to question the department’s claim of probable cause for the raid — particularly on the issue of the supposedly “positive” field-tested tea leaves. “There was no probable cause at any step of the investigation,” the judge wrote. “Not at the garden shop, not at the gathering of the tea leaves, and certainly not at the analytical stage when the officers willfully ignored directions to submit any presumed results to a laboratory for analysis.”
The lawsuit was filed against the specific police officers who conducted the raid, as well as the local county elected officials who sanctioned the raid. I hope they bankrupt them all.
I should also add that the timing here is great, because Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, appears in favor of more of these kinds of raids.