Post details: Checkpoint Lawsuit: Amended Complaint & Joint Status Report

2011-12-10

Permalink 22:00:48, Categories: News, Right to Travel, Roadblock Lawsuit, Checkpoints, 1518 words   English (EU)

Checkpoint Lawsuit: Amended Complaint & Joint Status Report

For those interested, I've recently added 41 legal documents to the website regarding ongoing Checkpoint USA civil rights lawsuit activity this year. From the document timeline, the newly added docs start at #181 and run through #222. Most of the documents cover recent discovery and summary judgment motions, attachments, statements of fact, exhibits, etc from the last few months that I'll be covering in greater detail in future blog entries. In this article however, I'll only be reviewing a joint status report and our 4th amended complaint from April and May of this year respectively. For those interested in the raw documentation however, the website is now up to date with all the most pertinent lawsuit documentation.

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The Joint Report for Scheduling Conference was filed on April 12, 2011 in the United States District Court For the District of Arizona, judge A. Wallace Tashima presiding. The purpose of the joint report is to provide a summary of the case to the judge from the perspective of both parties, bring the judge up to date regarding where the lawsuit currently stands, what outstanding issues both parties feel remain to be decided and to provide a proposed deadline schedule for remaining issues, motions, etc up to trial.

I've culled one section from the joint report below that provides a condensed summary of the remaining disputed factual & legal issues. This section is hopefully self-explanatory in laying out the position each side holds on the remaining issues in this lawsuit:

Factual and Legal Issues Genuinely In Dispute:

PLAINTIFF

  • Did the Defendants operate the roadblock in question for public safety purposes or for general law enforcement purposes in violation of Sitz and Edmond?
  • Did Defendants have lawful authority to continue to detain Mr. Bressi once they determined that he was not intoxicated or a danger to public safety?
  • May Defendants operate a roadblock for the primary purpose of checking drivers’ licenses?
  • May Defendants operate a roadblock for the primary purpose of calling in drivers’ licenses and checking for wants and warrants on drivers and passengers in stopped vehicles?
  • Was the right to be free from seizure at a roadblock operated in this manner clearly established at the time of the roadblock in question?
  • Is injunctive relief an appropriate remedy to ensure that the Defendants comply with the law regarding operation of roadblocks?

DEFENDANTS

  • Are the Defendants entitled to qualified immunity on the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims?
  • Whether the roadblock/checkpoint was for proper primary purposes and the actions taken there were proper under the Fourth Amendment.
  • Whether any participation or decisions to publish guidelines is discretionary and whether it is the individual duty of any defendant in this case.
  • The extent, if any, that this Court can or should enter injunctions against any of the Defendants for future roadblocks/checkpoints, or for any other future conduct.
  • Damages and attorney fees, if any, including amount, and whether plaintiff failed to mitigate damages and whether he is subject to comparative fault, reducing any damage award.
  • Checkpoints may be held for sobriety, and registration and license checks. The Court of Appeals already stated this in its Opinion. Bressi v. Ford, 575 F.3d 891, 17 897 (9th Cir. 2008).
  • Any issues of continued detention and subsequent arrest and citation of Plaintiff are foreclosed by Court of Appeals’ Opinion in this case. These and any other issues affirmed on appeal are subject to issue and claims preclusion, estoppel and waiver, and law of the case. Without waiving the foregoing, whether Defendants lawfully detained Plaintiff while he refused to comply with their requests for or related to his drivers’ license and vehicle registration.

The parties do not believe that the issues can be narrowed through stipulation. However, the parties agree that they can stipulate to certain facts while other facts can be established through requests for admission and other discovery tools, and in so doing the parties may simplify the factual and legal issues for trial.

On May 17, 2011, we filed our 4th Amended Complaint with the district court. After the 9th circuit decision in 2009, several legal issues had been clarified and several outstanding claims decided. Given the changes that came about from the decision, it became necessary to consolidate several of the remaining claims and re-evaluate their legal basis. The 4th Amended Complaint is the legal document that does exactly that.

An excerpt from the 4th Amended Complaint outlining the factual allegations forming the basis for the lawsuit claims appears below:

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

  • At all relevant times, the Defendants are all police officers who are certified by Arizona Peace Officer Standards & Training Board (POST), and therefore they all have the authority from the State of Arizona to enforce Arizona state law anywhere in the State of Arizona. Defendant’s employer, the police department of the Tohono O’odham Nation, is also under contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to provide police services within the jurisdiction of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Defendant Joseph Delgado is currently the Chief of Police for the Tohono O’odham Police Department (“TOPD”).
  • At all relevant times, the Defendants have acted in their official capacity as peace officers of the State of Arizona under color of state law.
  • On or about December 18, 2002, Defendant Richard Saunders, then-Acting Chief of Police for TOPD, approved a roadblock to be operated on December 20, 2002, by TOPD officers, with Defendant Lieutenant Michael Ford as the on-scene commander, near milepost 143 on State Route 86 within the boundaries of the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona. Defendants George Traviolia and Eric O’Dell were officers involved in operating the roadblock.
  • On December 20, 2002, Defendant Saunders, as the Acting Chief of Police, was responsible for promulgating and publishing guidelines for the operation of roadblocks. On December 20, 2002, no guidelines for operating roadblocks had been promulgated or published by Defendant Saunders or any of his predecessors as Chief of Police.
  • On December 20, 2002, Bressi was driving eastbound on SR-86 in Arizona. Near milepost 143 on SR-86 he encountered a roadblock set up by the Defendants.
  • At the roadblock, Bressi was forced to stop and was approached by Lieutenant Ford, who demanded Bressi’s identification papers.
  • Bressi inquired with Defendants as to whether this stop complied with United States Supreme Court cases regarding sobriety checkpoints and roadblocks for several minutes, prompting Officer Traviolia to state that it was clear Bressi was not intoxicated. At no time during the detention did Lieutenant Ford, Officer Traviolia, or any other officer present inquire into Bressi’s Indian or non-Indian status. When the Defendants were satisfied that Bressi was not intoxicated, they no longer had legal justification to continue to detain Bressi.
  • Rather than release Bressi and allow him to continue on his way, Lieutenant Ford, Officer Traviolia, and Officer O’Dell continued to detain Bressi and demand his identification papers. Bressi informed them that they were acting in contravention to state and federal law regarding constitutionality of roadblocks, but the officers persisted. The officers then arrested Bressi and removed him from his vehicle and cited him with violations of A.R.S. 28-1595B and 28-622(A).
  • Bressi was detained for approximately three hours. During that time he observed the operations of the roadblock. Bressi observed the Defendants and other officers allowing some drivers to pass without stopping while demanding identification papers from others.
  • While working at suspicionless roadblocks, Defendants Saunders, Ford, Traviolia, and O’Dell stopped drivers not only for the purpose of determining whether drivers were intoxicated, but also for the purposes of checking driver’s licenses, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance, and they used the driver’s licenses to call dispatch to check if drivers had “wants or warrants” in the state and/or national databases.
  • While working at suspicionless roadblocks, Defendants Ford and Traviolia requested consent from drivers to conduct trunk searches, and upon obtaining that consent they conducted trunk searches, without any reasonable suspicion.
  • On or about June 16, 2003, through a process server, Bressi served notices of claim, pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-821.01, to Defendants Saunders, Ford, Traviolia, and O’Dell.
  • In his notice of claim, Bressi informed the Defendants that he has a claim for violation of his civil rights and he outlined proposed terms of settlement.
  • Bressi’s defense attorney interviewed Defendants Ford and Traviolia on December 5, 2003, and also issued subpoenas duces tecum for production of documentation regarding their guidelines for conducting roadblocks and sobriety checkpoints.
  • At an evidentiary hearing on December 9, 2003, Defendants Ford and Traviolia appeared at an evidentiary hearing in Pima County Justice Court in Ajo, Arizona. At that hearing, Defendants Ford and Traviolia informed Deputy Pima County Attorney Philip Perkins that the Tohono O’odham Nation was invoking sovereign immunity and refused to comply with the subpoena duces tecum for production of documentation regarding their guidelines for conducting roadblocks and sobriety checkpoints.
  • Mr. Perkins then informed the Justice of the Peace of this information on the record, in the presence of Defendants Ford and Traviolia. The Justice of the Peace dismissed the charges against Bressi with prejudice.

Future blog entries will cover the recent round of discovery along with motions for summary judgment recently submitted by both sides. Oral argument for summary judgment has been scheduled for December 21, 2011.

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Roadblock Revelations

Welcome to Checkpoint USA's blog. Here you'll find general information and discussions regarding growing threats to our right to privacy & travel.

While I refer to court cases along with state and federal law frequently in this blog, nothing written here should be construed as legal advice. I am not an attorney. Rather, I'm someone concerned about the growing disregard for individual rights present at all levels of government.

My conclusions are my own based upon personal experience and research. The law is made purposely complex however and varies significantly from place to place and circumstance to circumstance.

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