Disorderly (mis)Conduct: The Problem with "Contempt of Cop" Arrests
An Issue Brief by Christy E. Lopez
ACS is pleased to distribute "Disorderly (mis)Conduct: The Problem with 'Contempt of Cop' Arrests," an Issue Brief by Christy E. Lopez, a civil rights attorney with a practice focusing on police and criminal justice reform. Almost a year ago, the issue of "contempt of cop" arrests was thrust into the national news when Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., was arrested by Cambridge Police Department Sergeant James Crowley. Sergeant Crowley was responding to a 911 caller who had reported a burglary in progress at Professor Gates's home, which is where the two encountered each other. As the events unfolded - Crowley's investigation of the burglary call and Gates's response to the Crowley's questions and actions - the situation escalated, and led to Sergeant Crowley arresting Professor Gates for disorderly conduct in the middle of the day just outside the front door to his house. The charges were later dropped, and after President Obama waded into the whole affair by saying that he thought the police acted "stupidly," the President later hosted a "beer summit" with both Gates and Crowley at the White House to help resolve the situation.
Ms. Lopez argues that "Sergeant Crowley's decision to arrest Professor Gates may or may not have been stupid. It may or may not have been consistent with Cambridge Police Department policy. But, if the facts are as Crowley asserted in his arrest report, the arrest was unlawful." She describes the law, and contends that, however loud, rude, or obnoxious Gates was, his behavior "falls squarely in the realm of speech protected by the First Amendment," and he should not have been arrested. Ms. Lopez continues that, "[d]espite its illegality, the arrest of Professor Gates was not unusual. This scenario - an individual being arrested after responding obstreperously to perceived police misconduct - is one that plays out routinely across the United States, albeit without the Ivy League backdrop or culminating in conflict-resolution-through-beer."
In this Issue Brief, Ms. Lopez asserts that there is "widespread misunderstanding of police authority to arrest individuals who passively or verbally defy them" and that there is "abundant evidence that police overuse disorderly conduct and similar statutes to arrest people who 'disrespect' them or express disagreement with their actions." She believes that "abusive arrests cause direct and significant harm to those arrested and, more generally, undermine the appropriate balance between police authority and individual prerogative to question the exercise of that authority." To fully explore this issue, Ms. Lopez discusses the relevant law governing these types of arrests, and several investigations of problems in police departments around the country. She then details her reasons for asserting that "the harm caused by improper arrests and threats of arrest for disorderly conduct far outweighs the justification given by some police and pundits for the aggressive (overly-aggressive, some would say) use of these statutes," and concludes by proposing "a roadmap for legislators, advocates, law enforcement officials, and others seeking to address this problem."
Here are some highlights from the June 2010 issue of the Louisville Bar Association's Bar Briefs publication.
- "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Due Process" by Rebecca J. O'Neill, '09
- "A Father's Tale" by Laurel S. Doheny, '92, LBA President
- "Present Tense" by Jim Chen
- "New Wyatt Fellow Named to Help at Legal Aid" featuring Tracey Leo Darbro, '09
A copy is available in the library's reserves.
The 2009-10 edition of the University of Louisville Law Alumni Magazine is now available.
- Entering Class and Career Statistics
- Dean's Reflections
- Student News
- Faculty and Administrative News
- Faculty Scholarship
- Honored Alumni
- Alumni Council Report
- Class Notes
- May 2010 Graduate Profiles
- Development News
Five students from the Central High School Law & Government Magnet competed at the Marshall-Brennan National Civil Liberties Moot Court Competition in Philadelphia on March 20-21, 2010. Keylandance Carpenter, Tevin Payne, Barbie Parker, Corey Thomas and Gabriel Vaughn represented Central and achieved incredible success in the tournament.
Both Barbie Parker and Gabe Vaughn, reached the semi-final round of the competition, which placed each of them among the 16 most outstanding competitors in the entire nation on the side of the case they argued. Teams came from all over the country, representing Marshall-Brennan programs from Washington, D.C., to Phoenix, and from Boston to Baton Rouge. Parker’s semi-final round performance left her just barely short of qualifying for the national finals, which would have placed her among the top four students in the entire competition.
The team was coached by Brandeis School of Law students Noelle Rao and Duffy Trager, who accompanied the team to Philadelphia. Both were third-year students who taught at Central in the Marshall-Brennan program this year as part of the Brandeis School of Law’s Signature Partnership with Central, working with Joe Gutmann, the Law & Government program’s long-time teacher. Noelle and Duffy were joined in Philadelphia by law school professor and Marshall-Brennan faculty supervisor Sam Marcosson, who also helped coach the students as they prepared for the competition.
“Barbie and Gabe’s performances in particular were terrific,” Marcosson said. “They proved that our Central students can compete with the very best students from around the country. And all five students worked hard to prepare, and impressed the judges with their knowledge of the law, the facts of the cases, and ability to deal with tough questions. They did a great job, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
On May 25, 2010, members of the law school community gathered at Central High School's library to celebrate the accomplishments of the Central High School Law Magnet Program. Professor Laura Rothstein, with the assistance of Jina Scinta and Principal Dan Withers, conducted the ceremony.
Renowned portrait artist, Robert Shetterly unveiled reproductions of two paintings from his Americans Who Speak the Truth Collection. He shared quotes from both Justice Louis D. Brandeis and Representative John Lewis during his discussion about the essential principles of a democracy.
Following his remarks, Joe Gutmann, Central High School Law and Government Magnet Coordinator, presented awards to the program's outstanding students. Professor Sam Marcosson and Noelle Rao, '10 both received awards and standing ovations from the participants. Mary Jo Gleason, Coordinator of the Junior Writing Skills Program, Scott Furkin, Executive Director of the Louisville Bar Association, and Emily Zahn, '08 were also recognized for their contributions.
The Twenty-Seventh Annual Carl A. Warns Jr. Labor and Employment Law Institute will be held June 24-25 at the Galt House.
William Gould, a Professor of Law at Stanford University and former Chair of the National Labor Relations Board, is the keynote speaker. Mr. Gould is a prolific scholar of labor and discrimination law as well as a critically acclaimed author of nine books and more than sixty law review articles. He will present the Warns Lecture, "A Half Century of the Steelworkers Trilogy: Fifty Years of Ironies Squared", at 11 AM on Thursday.
Program topics include:
- Arbitration Skills
- Cultural Considerations
- Cyberspace Communications
- EEOC Update
- EFCA and Interest Arbitration
- Ethics Rules
- Health Reform and Employers
- Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Update
- Legislative and Agency Developments Update
- NLRB Update
- Review of Kentucky Employment Law Cases
- Review of U.S. Supreme Court Labor and Employment Law Cases
- Tips on Successful Mediations
The Institute will provide 13.25 CLE hours, including two ethics hours, from the Kentucky (approved) and Indiana Bar (pending approval) Associations.
When University of Louisville graduates marched into Freedom Hall May 8 for commencement ceremonies, they followed students carrying colorful banners with each school or college name.
The banners are a handy way for family and friends to separate groups and find their graduate in the crowd. They also are a way to honor students who have been leaders in other ways: banner bearers are each school or college’s “outstanding graduate” for 2010. Each has a high record of scholarship, leadership and service.
Barry Dunn represented the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law. Dunn served as president of the Moot Court Board, a post of honor that also requires a lot of work. As president, he completed a project to review moot court competitions, evaluate them for the work required and credit hours awarded and draft a plan that equitably allocates credit hours to student competitors. The project normally would be one for a faculty curriculum committee. Dunn also served as the “notes” editor for the University of Louisville Law Review.
Full Story: "Outstanding students lead way at commencement" (UofL Today, May 7, 2010)
The Thirteenth Annual Estate Planning Institute will be held May 28 at the University Club and Alumni Center.
Program topics include:
- New Partnership Long Term Care Update and Medicaid 2010 Update
- Developments in Professional Responsibility
- Little Known and Unexpected Income Tax Issues Arising in Everyday Estate Planning Situations
- Contested Issues in Kentucky
- Current Wealth Transfer Tax Problems
The Institute will provide 7.0 hours of CLE credit from the Kentucky (approved) and Indiana Bar Associations (pending approval).
On May 15, women writers and readers from around Kentucky will gather at the University of Louisville's Ekstrom Library for the Kentucky Women's Book Festival to talk books, poems, short stories and other types of writing.
The festival, now in its fourth year, is a unique opportunity for writers and readers to meet face to face and talk about their craft. Speakers at this year's festival include Affrilachian author Crystal Wilkinson and Sarah Gorham, president of Sarabande Books. Sessions are free to attend, but lunch is $16 and requires advance reservations. Register by calling 502-852-8976.
UofL Today caught up with Women’s Center director Mary Karen Powers, one of the event’s organizers, to talk about the festival.
Read the full story: "20 Minutes about the Kentucky Women's Book Festival" by Brandy Warren (UofL Today, April 21, 2010)