NE: Police don’t have to decide the constitutionality of the laws they enforce

Police officers are not legal scholars, and they don’t have to guess as to the constitutionality of the laws they enforced. They need only act reasonably in reliance on statute or ordinance. State v. Albarenga, 313 Neb. 72 (Dec. 23, 2022).

Plaintiff law student was stopped driving home from law school when in person classes were stopped because of Covid. At an exit, he started to get off and changed his mind. The officer stopped him claiming reasonable suspicion for a traffic offense based on the swerve (which the court credits). The vehicle was sniffed by a drug dog which allegedly alerted. A wholesale search of all his belongings in the U-Haul, trashing his stuff, lasted for an hour finding nothing. All the while, plaintiff was handcuffed, even after the search was complete while the officer was writing a warning ticket. Then he’s released. The officer gets qualified immunity for the stop and search but not the handcuffing. Humphrey v. Payton, 4:21-cv-00194-LPR (E.D.Ark. Dec. 20, 2022).* [A wholly unsatisfying outcome based on the facts, including chiding plaintiff for not bringing an equal protection claim for pretext, with 63 pages and 383 footnotes to the summary judgment record. In Arkansas, if you haven’t sued the ASP for overreaching, you’re not doing your job.]

With the video “Viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs, the facts support a finding that Hames did not pose a sufficiently immediate threat to justify the use of deadly force.” Qualified immunity denied. R. H. v. City of Redding, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 35414 (9th Cir. Dec. 22, 2022).*

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