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."
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
Come karaoke with PALS!! We need votes for our Pepsi Grant, and what better way to get them than a karaoke party! Everyone is welcome! Invite all your friends!
When: Friday, June 11th from 5:30pm to 9:30pm
Where: Akiko's, 1123 Bardstown Rd Louisville, KY
Who is PALS? Rexéna Napier, Lauren Bean, Victoria Steinbach and Melissa McHendrix, four May graduates of the University of Louisville, Brandeis School of Law, have created Partnership for Animal Law Services (PALS). PALS plans to provide legal services and education to people in rural and urban areas of Kentucky focusing on the intervention and prevention of animal abuse and neglect. These services will empower clients and the public to build a compassionate community for all. PALS will take a grassroots approach by providing three main programs: general legal services, prosecution support, and education.
Why are we having a karaoke party? PALS is currently a candidate for a $50,000 Pepsi Refresh project grant. Pepsi is giving away over 1 million dollars each month to individuals striving to bring about social change. The public votes for the ideas they want to see happen, and those ideas get funded. Please help PALS by voting for us every day in June! You can vote at www.refresheverything.com/pals. If you want more information about PALS you can visit our website at www.animallawservices.org, or search for us on Facebook: Partnership for Animal Law Services.
Citizens United: The Aftermath
An Issue Brief by Monica Youn
ACS is pleased to distribute Citizens United: The Aftermath, an Issue Brief by Monica Youn, Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School. In this Issue Brief, Ms. Youn examines the political impact of the Supreme Court's January 21, 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and outlines potential responses that, the author contends, "would buttress existing campaign finance safeguards from further attacks and mitigate some of the harmful effects of [the decision]." In Citizens United, the Court held that limitations on corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections violate the First Amendment, striking down a significant portion of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act. Ms. Youn contends that the 5-4 decision represents an undermining of precedent with potentially grave consequences:
By holding, for the first time, that corporations have the same First Amendment rights to engage in political spending as people, the Supreme Court re-ordered the priorities in our democracy -- placing special interest dollars at the center of our democracy, and displacing the rightful role of voters.
Ms. Youn proposes a variety of responses to the decision. In the short term, the author recommends a legislative response that includes enactment of stop-gap measures (such as shareholder consent and increased corporate disclosure requirements) and larger structural reforms (such as public financing and voter registration modernization). However, in the longer term, Ms. Youn recommends closer attention to the Judiciary and judicial nominations:
[I]n the long term, reclaiming the First Amendment for the voters will be the best weapon against those who seek to use the First Amendment for the good of the few, rather than for the many. Judges whose conception of the First Amendment takes account of the interests of voters can speed this process. As the nation seeks a successor to Justice Stevens, we hope that his successor advances a vision of a democratic, deliberative, and voter-centric First Amendment.
PALS is currently a candidate for a $50,000 Pepsi Refresh project grant. Pepsi is giving away over 1 million dollars each month to individuals striving to bring about social change. The public votes for the ideas they want to see happen, and those ideas get funded. Please help PALS by voting for us every day in June! You can vote at www.refresheverything.com/pals. If you want more information about PALS you can visit our website at www.animallawservices.org, or search for us on Facebook: Partnership for Animal Law Services. Thanks for your votes!!
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.”
"The Prop 8 Court Can Have it All: Justice, Precedent, Respect for Democracy, and an Appropriately Limited Judicial Role"Posted June 1st, 2010 by Virginia Mattingly
ACS is pleased to distribute The Prop 8 Court Can Have it All: Justice, Precedent, Respect for Democracy, and an Appropriately Limited Judicial Role, an Issue Brief by Rebecca L. Brown, Newton Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. In this Issue Brief, Professor Brown discusses Perry v. Schwarzenegger, in which the United States District Court for the Northern District of California is considering whether the United States Constitution requires states to permit marriage between individuals of the same sex. While strong arguments may very well exist for a broad ruling, Professor Brown suggests that the case might also lend itself to a more modest resolution of the claims raised. Proposition 8 was a ballot initiative that originated as a reaction to a California Supreme Court decision interpreting California's Constitution as requiring the state to permit same-sex couples to marry; Proposition 8 subsequently added to the California Constitution a provision that "[o]nly marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." After extensive analysis of case law, the author concludes that the United States Constitution's Equal Protection jurisprudence dictates that Proposition 8 be struck down, since "[a]ny legislation must have a public purpose other than stigmatization," and "no public purpose that could plausibly be served by this retroactive reduction in status has been offered to dispel the usual inference that any act of stigmatization is a violation of the state's obligation to legislate impartially."
While a decision along these lines would not touch upon the breadth of the fundamental right to marry, Professor Brown suggests that this modest resolution of Perry "would fulfill the best expectations we have of the federal judicial role, to resolve the case on strong, unassailable, time-honored, and yet narrow, grounds."
As the author argues:
A ruling of the kind I will advocate would not be an act of minimalism, but neither would it be an act of maximalism. Rather, this would be an exercise in judicial optimalism -- using good judgment to determine just how much judicial intervention is necessary to vindicate the core and essential purposes of the judicial role, without unnecessarily diverting the course of more widespread social and political movements that are at the heart of healthy and lasting legal change.
- 1st place $1,000 (and possible publication in Kentucky Bench & Bar)
- 2nd place $300
- 3rd place $200
Entries must be received no later than June 1, 2010.