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Title: Court Dismisses Bogus Charges Brought Against Nevada Man Who Pissed Off Local Cops By Using The Crosswalk
Source: TechDirt
URL Source: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/2 ... cal-cops-using-crosswalk.shtml
Published: Nov 6, 2018
Author: Tim Cushing
Post Date: 2018-11-06 08:59:33 by Deckard
Keywords: None
Views: 105
Comments: 2

from the nothing-about-the-headline-is-metaphoric dept

We just covered cops getting all angry and sued as the result of their inability to not violate civil rights just because someone interrupted one of their sting operations. In that story, officers were upset a man had placed a cardboard sign dam in their revenue stream by warning drivers of a distracted driving sting a couple of blocks ahead.

It's not a Connecticut thing. It's a #CopThing. Techdirt reader John Mehaffey directs us to another civil rights lawsuit stemming from sting operation disruption, this time in Nevada. There, John Hunt saw Boulder City cops running a sting involving a pedestrian crosswalk on the main drag. He wasn't impressed by their tactics.

The fracas started in 2016 on Boulder City's main drag. Boulder City Police obtained federal funds to conduct a pedestrian sting operation, one designed to ticket motorists who fail to stop for pedestrians in this crosswalk on Nevada Way. A decoy in an orange shirt was assigned to walk back and forth across the road. There were problems from the start.

"This decoy was doing shady things. We have him on video walking extremely slow, walking into the crosswalk at one-fifth the speed a normal person would walk, and he's stopping half-way and raising his hand," Stubbs said.

Much like the Connecticut case we covered recently, this sting involved federal funds. The PD obviously didn't want this funding to dry up, so it needed to ticket as many people as possible, even if it meant utilizing a faux pedestrian who didn't behave like regular pedestrians.

John Hunt was one of those ticketed for failing to yield to the PD's stunt walker. He went back to the scene of his crime and performed some pro se walking. The results were predictable.

[A]ter being cited, he returned to the scene of the ongoing sting and began a one man protest, by doing the same thing the decoy was doing. It took hunt just over a minute to walk across the street three times. That was enough for police Sgt. John Glenn, who whipped into action.

Sgt. John Glenn can be heard saying, "Come over here. Come over here. Because I said so."

Within minutes, other officers converged, and the pedestrian protester was taken down, then taken to jail.

The cops lied in their arrest report, stating that Hunt had "caused a vehicle to slam on its brakes and skid to a stop." (Even if true [it wasn't], the pedestrian had the right of way in the crosswalk... so... the crime is what exactly?) Dash cam obtained by Hunt's lawyer, Stephen Stubbs showed nothing like that ever happened.

This resulted in the city dropping the charges against Hunt. Then Hunt decided to sue the city and, magically, the charges -- pushed by a new city attorney (and local religious leader) -- reappeared. City Attorney and local Mormon church stake president Steve Morris rang Hunt up for the original charge plus a few more.

Hunt's lawyer complained on Facebook about the bogus charges. This led the municipal judge (and good Mormon) Victor Miller to hand down a completely unconstitutional gag order forbidding Hunt's lawyer from discussing the case anywhere but in court. This gag order was thrown out [PDF] by a district court judge who noted it seemed to be put in place solely to protect the judge from criticism. And it was so overbroad it could not possibly be viewed as Constitutional.

[A]s couched, the Order is so broad both Mr. Stubbs and Mr. Morris could violate the mandate if they disparage their adversary even in a private conversation with their spouses or friends within the sanctity of their homes.

The gag order was tossed in April. Six months later, Hunt has received another favorable ruling from a district court. A minute order [PDF] (one made orally prior to a written order) from district court judge Richard Scotti blasts the city for its vindictive prosecution and dismisses the bogus charges the city dumped on him after it found out it was being sued.

The Court finds that the City vindictively prosecuted Appellant John Hunt when they resurrected their 2016 complaint against Mr. Hunt containing 3 additional claims, only six (6) days after Mr. Hunt filed a Civil Rights lawsuit against the City. Additionally, the Court finds Appellant satisfies the requirements needed to establish a presumption of vindictive prosecution and the prosecution fails to prove that the increase in severity of the charge did not result from any vindictive motive.

The only evidence that the prosecution provides this Court to rebut Appellants claim of vindictive prosecution is that City Attorney Mr. Olsen was preparing for retirement and did not have a paralegal. This evidence is not sufficient to indicate that the increased charges could not have been brought before the defendant exercised his right. Almost Eleven (11) months elapsed between when the City dismissed all charges and Mr. Hunt filed his civil rights lawsuit. The prosecution had ample time to prepare a complaint the eleven (11) months previous to Mr. Hunt filing his civil rights lawsuit.

The benchslap continues:

The filing of the criminal complaint only days after Mr. Hunt filed his civil rights lawsuit, coupled with the facts that the City of Boulder City previously dismissed the criminal case rising from June 8, 2016 and has not received any additional evidence, clearly indicates that the prosecution had a vindictive motive when they refiled their complaint on June 5, 2017.

Finally, the court notes Hunt's one-minute traverse of the crosswalk was protected speech, which will add more ammo to Hunt's civil rights lawsuit. And the judge points out a major flaw in the city's bogus obstruction charge: Hunt's use of the crosswalk during the sting operation was actually encouraged by the PD itself.

The City of Boulder knew that Mr. Hunt was protesting and still charged him with Obstruction even though the police previous to this incident sent out a press release asking people to use the crosswalk during the enforcement activity.

Hunt is now facing zero (0) criminal charges. The city is still facing one (1) civil rights lawsuit. And yet, the city just can't stop digging. It's going to lose the lawsuit and it's decided the best thing to do is further destroy its own credibility. This bit of First Amendment stupidity comes directly from the city government.

Boulder City Communications Manager Lisa Laplante told the I-Team Tuesday afternoon that the city respectfully disagrees with the ruling, and said the pedestrian protest was the equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theater. She also said that the city plans to appeal the decision.

God help me, I hope the city uses this "fire in a crowded theater" argument during its appeal of this dismissal. I hope it uses it when it defends itself against Hunt's civil rights lawsuit. I can't wait to see a couple of federal judges tee off on this misused trope during their rundown of every other stupid thing the city did in response to Hunt's mild protest.

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#1. To: Deckard (#0)

Finally, the court notes Hunt's one-minute traverse of the crosswalk was protected speech,

Really? Really? One minute to cross the street is now called "protected speech"?

And I have to sit there in my car waiting because he's in a crosswalk and immune from traffic?

Yeah. Do that in front of me and be prepared to look at the bottom of my car as I run you over. That's what happens when you abuse the freedoms you're given.

misterwhite  posted on  2018-11-06   10:20:54 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: misterwhite (#1)

And I have to sit there in my car waiting because he's in a crosswalk and immune from traffic?

Yeah. Do that in front of me and be prepared to look at the bottom of my car as I run you over.

Yeah, I'm sure you'd run over a cop employee doing the same thing.

The fracas started in 2016 on Boulder City's main drag. Boulder City Police obtained federal funds to conduct a pedestrian sting operation, one designed to ticket motorists who fail to stop for pedestrians in this crosswalk on Nevada Way. A decoy in an orange shirt was assigned to walk back and forth across the road. There were problems from the start.

"This decoy was doing shady things. We have him on video walking extremely slow, walking into the crosswalk at one-fifth the speed a normal person would walk, and he's stopping half-way and raising his hand," Stubbs said.

“Truth is treason in the empire of lies.” - Ron Paul

Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen.
The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning.
Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.

Deckard  posted on  2018-11-06   10:59:27 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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