- Alicia Hilton, Former FBI Special Agent
For decades, the DOJ’s civil rights enforcement policies regarding lending, school discipline, and criminal justice have been premised on the belief that relaxing standards and otherwise reducing the frequency of adverse outcomes will reduce percentage racial differences in rates of experiencing those outcomes. Exactly the opposite is the case. Generally reducing any adverse outcome tends to increase, not decrease, percentage racial differences in rates of experiencing those outcomes. This Teleforum discussed whether the Sessions DOJ will be able to understand the statistical issues and, if so, how such understanding should affect civil rights enforcement policies. Click here to access materials referenced in this Podcast. Click here for Jim's website.
In recent years, there have been a growing number of cases where people have been freed from prison after they were exonerated or their convictions were overturned. Some states have statutes that provide compensation under some circumstances to such individuals, but the scope of those statutes and their applicability varies, with other states providing no means of compensation at all. A number of advocacy groups are pushing for changes. What, if anything, should be done? What kind of compensation are the wrongfully imprisoned entitled to? What kind of financial obligations for these cases can state treasuries bear? What is the perspective of law enforcement on these questions? This Teleforum explored these and related issues.
Ziglar v. Abbasi is the result of over a decade of remands and appeals. The case was originally filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of incarcerated Muslim, South Asian, and Arab non-citizens who were targeted after 9/11 by law enforcement as “terrorism suspects.” The defendants in the case, high level officials in the Bush administration, such as Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI director Robert Mueller, and low level detention officials, filed a motion to dismiss, which was rejected by the in the District Court.
In 2009, the Supreme Court decided in Ashcroft v. Iqbal that government officials were not liable for discriminatory actions of their subordinates without evidence they directly ordered the actions. Meanwhile, five of the petitioners in Ziglar settled with the government, and the case was remanded to the District Court and amended. In 2010, the District Court granted a new motion of dismissal, but only for the high level officials. This dismissal was reversed by the Second Circuit.
The main question the Supreme Court answered was whether these high-level government officials could be sued for damages under the Bivens precedent. The precedent, created in a 1971 case involving the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, created an implied cause of action for any person whose Fourth Amendment rights are violated by federal officials. On Monday, June 19 the Supreme Court refused to extend the Bivens precedent to the petitioners, reversing the decision by the Second Circuit and remanding the case.
David Rivkin of Baker Hostelter joined us to discuss the opinion and its significance.
On Monday, the Supreme Court vacated and remanded Hernandez v. Mesa to the Fifth Circuit. The case involved a cross-border shooting and a Bivens claim.
In July of 2010, a 15-year-old adolescent named Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca and his friends were playing along a concrete structure on the border of the U.S. and Mexico. When Jesus Mesa, Jr., a U.S. Border Patrol Agent arrived, he detained one of the youths on the border, and shot and killed Hernandez, who was hiding behind a pillar of the Paso Del Norte Bridge on the Mexican side of the border. Hernandez’s parents sued Agent Mesa under the Fourth and Fifth Amendment for the use of unlawful and disproportionate force. Agent Mesa argued that the Fourth and Fifth Amendments did not apply because Hernandez was not a U.S. citizen.
The District Court found for Agent Mesa, while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the Fifth Amendment protections against deadly force applied but the Fourth Amendment did not, and that Agent Mesa should not receive qualified immunity.
Steve Giaier of the House Committee on Homeland Security joined us to discuss the Court’s decision to vacate and remand and what it means for the case going forward.