AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Civil Liability of Law Enforcement Agencies & Personnel
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Monthly Law Journal Article: Greene
v. Camreta - The Ninth Circuit's Ruling on Questioning Minors in Abuse
Investigations, 2010 (6) AELE Mo. L. J. 101.
Monthly Law Journal Article: Civil Liability for Improper Interrogation of Minors--Part 1, 2010 (7) AELE Mo. L. J. 101
The highest court in Massachusetts has struck down a local ordinance making it a crime for minors under age 17 to violate a curfew. The court ruled that the criminal penalties minors faced for violating the ordinance, including arrest and possible commitment to state custody were too broad to be constitutionally permissible, even if the city had intended to serve legitimate public safety goals by promoting a youth curfew. "The criminal processes and punishments provided in the ordinance contradict well-established goals of rehabilitating, not incarcerating, juvenile offenders,'' the court stated, while leaving untouched civil penalties in the ordinance for curfew violators. The curfew requires minors to be home during the hours of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., with some stated exceptions for certain activities. The civil penalty is a $50 fine and the sending of a notice to a parent or guardian. Commonwealth v. Weston W., #SJC-10299, 455 Mass. 24; 913 N.E.2d 832 (2009).
A California city's youth curfew was overly broad and improperly prohibited otherwise "innocent and legal" conduct by minors even when they had parental permission to engage in activities after curfew. A California intermediate appeals court therefore ruled that it violated the equal protection provisions of the U.S. and California constitutions. While the curfew ordinance included exemptions for official school, religious, and other recreational activities, it did not allow minors to travel to and from such activities after 10 p.m. unaccompanied by an adult, even with parental permission. Also, a stated protection in the ordinance for minors engaged in protected First Amendment activities was "hollow," the court found, since it did not allow minors to travel to or from such activities without an adult present. The court also took issue with the ordinance failing to have a "going to" or "coming from" exceptions to permit minors to go safely from one curfew exempt location to another. In re A. G.,#D053991, 2010 Cal. App. Lexis 132 (4th Dist.).
New York's highest court rules that a Rochester, N.Y. nighttime curfew for juveniles violates both the childrens' substantive due process rights to "freedom of movement," and parents' rights to direct the upbringing of their children. While the intended purpose of the ordinance of preventing victimization of minors was legitimate, the proof offered by the city of the connection between the goal and the curfew used to achieve it failed to show the needed connection. The incidents the city pointed to would not have been prevented by the curfew since two of the victims killed met their deaths during hours before the time of the curfew, and a third minor decedent was already subject to an individual curfew. Crime statistics presented also did not support the argument for the curfew, and there was no substantial relationship between the curfew and another stated goal of promotion of parental supervision. Anonymous v. Rochester, #81, 2009 N.Y. Lexis 2010.
Arrest of four female minors for violation of a D.C. law imposing only civil penalties for underage possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages stated a valid claim for violation of their Fourth Amendment rights. Doe v. Metro. Police Dep't of the Dist. of Columbia, No. 04-7114, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 10263 (D.C. Cir.). [2006 LR Jun]
Although detectives' interrogation of an eleven-year-old girl, which produced her confession of involvement in the death of a two year old, was custodial and produced an involuntary statement in violation of her Fifth Amendment rights, the questioning detectives could not be held liable for her subsequent prosecution and conviction, later overturned. A decision by the trial judge to admit her confession was superseding cause of her damages. Murray v. Earle, No. 03-51379, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 5220 (5th Cir. 2005). [2005 LR May]
A "zero tolerance" policy allowing more severe treatment of children than adults, under which 12-year-old girl was arrested for eating a single french fry in a train station, while adults were given citations, was not unconstitutional. Hedgepeth v. Washington Metro Area Transit Auth., No. 03-7149, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 22230 (D.C. Cir. 2004). [2004 LR Dec]
Indiana's curfew statute violated minor's First Amendment rights, even with the inclusion of an affirmative defense for minors arrested while going to or from First Amendment protected activities, since subjecting them to the possibility of arrest may improperly "chill" such activities, federal appeals court rules. Hodgkins v. Peterson, No. 01-4115, 355 F.3d 1048 (7th Cir. 2004). [2004 LR Dec]
345:138 New York high court rules that juvenile adjudicated delinquent for endangering the safety of officers effectively waived any privilege against the subsequent use of that adjudication in other proceedings by suing the officers for excessive use of force. Green v. Montgomery, 723 N.Y.S.2d, 746 N.E.2d 1036 (N.Y. 2001).
Even if murder confessions officers obtained from juvenile suspects were coerced, they could not be held liable under federal civil rights law for violation of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination when the statements obtained were not used against the suspects in a criminal trial, but only in grand jury proceedings leading to their indictment and in a hearing to determine whether they should be tried as adults. Crowe v. County of San Diego, 303 F. Supp. 2d 1050 (S.D. Cal. 2004). [N/R]
Police officer was not shown to have used investigative techniques in child abuse investigation that were "so coercive and abusive" that he knew or should have known that they would yield false information. Officer had probable cause for arrest of suspect even if portions of his affidavit supporting the arrest were inaccurate as to the number of child victims who had told the officer the arrestee had sexually abused them. Gausvik v. Perez, No. 02-35902, 345 F.3d 813 (9th Cir. 2003). [2004 LR Feb]
344:122 Officers investigating child sexual abuse allegations had a duty, under Washington state law, to avoid negligence in doing so; appeals court reinstates lawsuit by parents arrested but later acquitted of involvement in child sex ring; improper interrogation techniques during interviews with children alleged. Rodriguez v. City of Wenatchee, # 43812-3-I, 994 P.2d 874 (Wash. App. 2000).
340:59 Even if the techniques used to interview child complainants were improper and coercive, nursery school teacher indicted and prosecuted for alleged sexual abuse of children could not recover damages since these interrogation techniques did not violate her own constitutional rights; prosecutors were entitled to absolute immunity for presenting children's testimony to grand jury and at trial. Michaels v. New Jersey, #99-5486, 222 F.3d 118 (3rd Cir. 2000).
314:26 Interrogations by detective squad of juveniles facing possible delinquency charges would not be enjoined by federal court; case-by-case determination as to whether interrogations were coercive was required; proper remedy for any alleged violation of Miranda rights was suppression of incriminating statements rather than federal civil rights claim. Deshawn v. Safir, #97-7410, 156 F.3d 340 (2nd Cir. 1998).
309:136 Officer's alleged threats to eleven year old female student in guidance counselor's office that she would be in a lot of trouble unless she answered his questions about her parents' alleged drug use, combined with promise that nothing would happen if she did provide information, was conduct "shocking to the conscience." Grendell v. Gillway, 974 F.Supp. 46 (D. Me. 1997).
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