Friday, January 15, 2010

Race and the Decision to Arrest

An interesting ruling from the 9th Circuit in Elliot-Park v. Manglona, concerning allegations by the victim of a traffic accident that the officer on the scene refused to arrest the perpetrator because she (the victim) was Korean and the aggressor and officer were both Micronesian. The court held that such discriminatory treatment, if true, violated the victim's civil rights, rejecting the police officer's argument that there is no constitutional right to have your assailant arrested. This is intriguing, since generally decisions to arrest or not arrest are widely left to the officer's discretion. But the court not only ruled racially discriminatory decision making was impermissible, it ruled that this legal position was clearly established at the time of the alleged acts, thus stripping the officer's qualified immunity.

Via. And I should note that these are just allegations at this point -- at this point in the case's procedural posture, the reviewing courts must accept all of the plaintiff's allegations as true. But they are just that -- allegations -- for now. They have not been proven in a court of law. That doesn't make the legal precedent it has set any less interesting, but I think it's still important to note.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

It makes good sense - you don't have a right to a house, either (you have to be able to pay for one, etc.) but you have the right not to be discriminated against in housing. (...as long as you're not gay or trans.)