Friday, July 06, 2012

Judge Carnes...

...starts off his latest opinion (Larry Butler vs. Sheriff of Palm Beach County) this way:

In one of his ballads, Jim Croce warned that there are four things that you
just don’t do: “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape/ You don’t spit into the wind/
You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger/ And you don’t mess around
with Jim.” He could have added a fifth warning to that list: “And you don’t let a
pistol-packing mother catch you naked in her daughter’s closet.”

It gets better:

It all started with a phone call.2 Nineteen-year-old Uzuri Collier called
Larry Butler, who was of a similar age, and invited him to her house. Butler
responded to the invitation the way most young men over the age of consent
would have—he went. Once Butler was at Uzuri’s house, he and she consented to
watch television for a while. Then they consented to do what young couples alone
in a house have been consenting to do since the memory of man (and woman)
runneth not to the contrary. The record does not disclose how long these two
young people had known each other in the dictionary sense, but that afternoon in
Uzuri’s bedroom they also knew each other in the biblical sense.
While doing so,
and while clothed in the manner that is customary in such matters, which is to say
not at all, they heard someone coming into the house.

The opinion is packed with this sort of fun writing, and it ends this way:

The amended complaint and Butler’s briefs leave no doubt that he feels
mistreated, and with what appears to be some justification. If the allegations are
true, Collier’s treatment of Butler was badder than old King Kong and meaner
than a junkyard dog. She might even have acted like the meanest hunk of woman
anybody had ever seen.
Still, the fact that the mistreatment was mean does not
mean that the mistreatment was under color of law. Because the alleged
mistreatment of Butler was not inflicted under color of law, the district court
correctly dismissed his § 1983 claims. Butler will have to seek his remedies under
state law and in state court.


Anonymous said...

What a great opinion! Although, I dare say you are treading pretty close to SFL's territory on a Friday. I'm thinking you just pulled the rug out from under his Friday post.

Anonymous said...

I am impressed with this website, rattling I am a fan.

Anonymous said...

Such writings are best left in a desk drawer, not published as an opinion of a second-highest court of the land. It's always fun to be so creative (at least in one's own mind), but litigants are entitled to a dispassionate ruling on the law, not an amateur attempt at comedy. For history, this piece of federal litigation will be recorded in the Federal Reporter (yes, this opinion is published). Larry Butler, who was assaulted, held naked at gunpoint, and repeatedly threatened with death by a sheriffs' deputy, has not only lost his case, but has been made the butt of Carne's odd sense of humor and justice. Carnes should have taken the advice judges always spout -- edit, edit, edit. Then, instead of a laughing audience, the decision might get a critical view. After all, it held there was no 1983 liability in a case in which a sheriff's deputy "in uniform, [with] handcuffs, and a firearm," used them to assault and scare a young man she caught in bed with her daughter. Which is to say, a deputy does not act under color of law if she happens to be acting on behalf of a family member. Behind all the humor is a simply another pro-police court decision. Not so funny, after all.

Anonymous said...

1:32 said "butt"

- kidding aside, if the deputy/mom had arrested romeo and locked him up, I might agree with 1:32, butthe fact that she happend to be wearing her uniform while she was acting like a mom does give rise to a § 1983 action - it just doesn't

Anonymous said...

But what about making a call during the incident and inquiring what offense she could arrest him for committing? That comes awfully close to under color of law.

And by the way what does this have to do with the Lewis & Tein lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

1:32 - get a life

Rumpole said...

Think of the story this guy will have. He'll be sitting in a bar in his 40's and tell the story and be challenged and pull out his 3d Ipad 35 and pull up the opinion.

Anonymous said...

and if he gets a parking ticket while at the bar, or a speeding ticket on the way home, he can retain rumpole to defend him! or, he may get banged for a dui, which could make rumpole's month!