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Court allows lawsuit against police for improper drug raid to go forward

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.

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  • wayne

    The source article is surprisingly filled with good factoids. I’d encourage everyone to actually read through it.
    The mechanics of the actual arrest are highly suspect and everyone concerned was operating under the color of law.
    The background on the mastermind of this miscarriage of justice is very telling– he started “staking out” gardening-shops in 1997.
    These people were totally clean, and the “authorities” couldn’t even do a field drug-test properly, nor did they apparently want to do so.

    The overriding issue I’m seeing, which is the elephant in the room, (and above and beyond this particular case) is the divergence in general, of drug laws on a State Vs Federal basis.

    According to the Federal government, no matter what your respective State laws say, the Controlled Substances Act is in full force as far as Federal law enforcement & prosecutions.

    Persecuting people who shop at garden stores, began in earnest, the 1980’s
    In an ironic twist of fate, Reagan’s re-assertion of Nixon’s war-on-drugs, lead to a shortage of imported weed and a subsequent increase in price. (Cocaine seemingly paradoxically, dropped in price. The Cartel just shifted from bulky low margin product, to high margin coke, and flooded the market.)
    Coupled with expanded availability of mail-order lighting technology and American know-how, indoor grow rooms took off, and domestic production has gone up year-over-year, ever since.
    (Powered by coal, natural gas, and nuclear.)

    Into the 1990’s, things became more draconian and warrant’s were regularly obtained on nothing more than vague grounds of “excessive consumption of electricity.” There were even instances of using IR camera’s to scan your house from the outside, to see if you had any “suspicious heat sources” in your house.
    I believe “Operation Green Thumb,” was the first massive, multi-agency task force headed by the DEA, to specifically target people who sold plant growing supplies & the people who bought them.

    Now, all these laws have become institutionalized, and that includes the Orwellian “asset forfeiture,” where you have the onerous of proving your cash wasn’t obtained illegally, or they keep it.

  • BSJ

    I’m glad to see this! “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.”

    And with Trump ‘joking’ that cops should be “not so nice” when making theses raids, I expect more citizens will end up dead.

    Remember back when I said I feared Trump would start encouraging his supporters to get tough and bust a few heads together? Well, here we go…

  • Orion314

    Got no problem with the bad folk encountering some bone crushers. I dream of a universe where the bad guys suffer, instead of enjoying a life full of rewards.

  • Orion314

    BTW, I place politicians at the top of the list of “bad guys”

  • LocalFluff

    “And with Trump ‘joking’ that cops should be “not so nice” when making theses raids, I expect more citizens will end up dead.”
    We can at least hope so! There are quite a few guys around who shouldn’t be around. The police must be rougher than the roughest criminal in order to function. Criminals should live in fear and often be killed, brutally. They are the ones who declared war on society and human kind, they will be slaughtered and thrown away as the garbage they’ve always been.

    “- When it comes to battle, we don’t want fairness. We want the opposite!”

  • wayne

    Just exactly which “criminal’s,” “…should live in fear and often be killed…” ?.

    The people in the article did nothing more than buy supplies to grow tomatoes and use loose leaf tea.

    What exactly are the status of “controlled substances,” in your homeland?

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