• Archive for February, 2018

    “Swatting” and Section 1983: Some Preliminary Thoughts

    by  • February 26, 2018 • Faculty Commentary • 0 Comments

    by Professor Sheldon Nahmod

    Suppose, either as some sort of misguided prank or motivated by malice, an individual calls the police anonymously and informs them falsely that a man has killed his father and is holding other persons hostage at a particular address. Members of a police SWAT team arrive at the location in the early evening, surround the location and call on the man inside to come out. They also call out directions to the man–who apparently has no idea of what’s going on–to keep his hands up. However, for whatever reason the man appears to lower his hands and at that point one of the officers shoots and kills him.

    This is obviously a real tragedy. But I would like to make some preliminary observations about the section 1983 liability issues potentially arising out of these circumstances. (more…)

    Cert Granted in Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach: Section 1983 First Amendment Retaliatory Arrest Claims & Probable Cause

    by  • February 24, 2018 • Faculty Commentary • 0 Comments

    by Professor Sheldon Nahmod

    Suppose a section 1983 plaintiff alleges that a city had him arrested in retaliation for the exercise of his First Amendment rights. He claims that he was arrested (although never prosecuted) at a city council meeting when he got up to speak because he previously had criticized the city’s eminent domain redevelopment efforts and had also sued the city for violating the state’s Sunshine Act.

    Ordinarily, such a plaintiff, in order to make out a section 1983 First Amendment retaliatory arrest claim, would only have to allege and prove that this impermissible retaliatory motive caused him harm, and the defendant would have the burden of disproving the absence of but-for causation in order to escape liability. But here the city argued that even if its motive was impermissible under the First Amendment, there was probable cause–an objective Fourth Amendment standard–to arrest the plaintiff anyway, and that this constituted a defense to the plaintiff’s First Amendment retaliation claim. What result? (more…)