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  1. #1
    Piggybank Cop's Avatar
    Piggybank Cop is offline Nobody important.
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    Exclamation High court weighs police-pursuit powers

    Justices weigh 2001 case of police use of deadly force to stop suspect flight
    The Associated Press
    Updated: 8:22 p.m. ET Feb 26, 2007

    WASHINGTON - Video of a police chase that left a Georgia teenager paralyzed — the “scariest chase I’ve seen since ‘The French Connection,”’ one Supreme Court justice said — played a key role Monday in arguments over the actions of a sheriff’s deputy.

    A camera in the dashboard of the police cruiser that rammed Victor Harris’s black Cadillac captured the sickening moment in March 2001 when Harris lost control and veered off the road and down an embankment. He was paralyzed in the incident.

    Harris sued former Coweta County Sheriff’s Deputy Timothy Scott, accusing the deputy of violating his civil rights. The court is deciding whether the lawsuit can proceed in its first case in 20 years on police use of deadly force to stop fleeing suspects.


    Several justices showed a close interest in the chase that preceded the crash, with an eye toward justifying Scott’s action as reasonable to prevent injury to other drivers and pedestrians.

    Justice Antonin Scalia referred to “The French Connection,” the 1971 Oscar-winning movie with one of Hollywood’s classic police pursuits. “It is frightening,” he said of the Georgia video.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Harris was endangering lives by fleeing from the police. “Anyone who has watched that tape has got to come to that conclusion, looking at the road and the way that this car was swerving, and the cars coming in the opposite direction. This was a situation fraught with danger,” she said.

    The video was not shown in the courtroom. However, as the court met the morning after the Academy Awards ceremony, four justices indicated they had watched a DVD of the chase, and the questioning by several others implied that they had as well. The availability of such a video to the justices is an uncommon occurrence in a court that hears its fair share of bankruptcy and tax cases.

    When Harris’s lawyer, Craig Jones of Atlanta, said his client was driving fast but not erratically, even using his turn signal before passing other cars, the justices were unimpressed.

    “He used the turning signal. That’s like the strangler who observes the ‘no smoking’ sign,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said.


    Plaintiff prevailed in lower courts
    Harris won rulings from two lower courts that he could take his lawsuit to trial. Jones said police could have called off the chase and arrested Harris, who was being pursued solely for speeding, at a later date.

    Jones cited the views of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals portraying Harris’ driving as under control despite the high speed.

    Justice Stephen Breyer, however, said he saw the video differently, with Harris swerving around cars and weaving through traffic on the dark, wet road. But Breyer said he would play it again.

    With another nod to Hollywood, Breyer said, “Suppose I look at the tape and I end up with Chico Marx’s old question with respect to the Court of Appeals: ‘Who do you believe, me or your own eyes?”’

    A decision is expected before July.

    The case is Scott v. Harris, 05-1631.
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  2. #2
    countybear's Avatar
    countybear is offline BDRT - Baby Daddy Removal Team
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    Seeing our "new and improved" Supreme Court in action is heartening for me. I am expecting some big things from them.

    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
    - Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

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    The opinions expressed by this poster are wholly his own, and should never be construed to even remotely be in representation of his employer, its agencies or assigns. In fact, they probably fail to be in alignment with the opinions of any rational human being.

  3. #3
    Motorwaycop's Avatar
    Motorwaycop is offline Retired Plod
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    I was once at a trial where the defence accused us of not following our proper pursuit protocols.

    The judge put the lawyer firmly in his place by saying.

    "Your client had the choice of using his brakes to stop. He didn't have to make off from the police."
    the sole advantage of power is that you can do more good.
    ( Baltasar Gracian )

  4. #4
    KaiGywer's Avatar
    KaiGywer is offline *insert witty remark here*
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    “He used the turning signal. That’s like the strangler who observes the ‘no smoking’ sign,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said.

    Haha, that's an awesome quote.
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