Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thomas More Law Center Files Appeal on Behalf of Negeen Mayel

In the United States of America, citizens have rights. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Constitution seems to have little weight in Dearborn, Michigan. Officer Brian Kapanowski (the officer who arrested Negeen) admitted, during the trial, that he had no reason at all to believe that she had committed a crime of any kind when he approached her. Hence, he had no right to put his hands on her, seize her property, or throw her in jail.

Since Officer Kapanowski did not have "probable cause" (or any reasonable suspicion that Negeen had committed or was about to commit a crime), it was illegal for him to seize Negeen or her property. After violating Negeen's rights and grabbing her, Officer Kapanowski should have been fired from the police force and charged with assault and battery (if not abduction). Yet Judge Mark Somers, who presided during our trial, wouldn't allow our lawyer, Robert Muise, to argue the "probable cause" issue in front of the jury. The judge's erroneous ruling was therefore the main reason Negeen was convicted (more on the judge's blunder here).

I'm happy to announce that a court outside of Dearborn will now be handling the appeal. The Thomas More Law Center filed a massive appellant brief today on Negeen's behalf. Those who are interested may read the brief in its entirety (if your screen is small, you can click here for a PDF file):

I'm no legal expert, but this looks like a slam dunk to me. William DeBiasi, Prosecuting Attorney for the City of Dearborn, was clearly outmatched during our trial. We'll see how he does in front of a judge who won't bend over backwards for a corrupt police department.

For a full discussion of the events in Dearborn, click here.


Lydia McGrew said...

Fantastic appeal brief. Really interesting. I learned a lot from it.

Hey, where's that video of the policeman saying "that's enough pain and suffering"? I missed that somehow.

Looking forward to the constitutional suit.

P.S. The new look of the site seems correlated with its loading _incredibly_ slowly. Don't know if anything can be done about that.

GreekAsianPanda said...

I just went through the brief, and I must say, "slam dunk" is indeed the correct term. Let's pray that everything works out!

Traeh said...

I'm with you, but be careful of letting any judge sense anything like cockiness in you about your position. Confidence and humility together, in equal measure.

Traeh said...

Okay, just finished reading the Appeal. I have no idea if it's a slam dunk, but it's fascinating. Gives one great admiration for the Bill of Rights, the law, and the ways those rights have ramified into concrete situations having to do with police. To me it seems a miracle that humankind achieved all these limits on police and state power, and embodied those limits in a vast, highly admirable, centuries-old collective endeavor of legal thought about unique and particular circumstances.

Henning said...

I love this. I am following this all the way over from Denmark.

Lydia McGrew said...

By the way, I have to say how it makes me shake my head to read all these precedents they are quoting about the 4th amendment--how the police have to have objective reason about that particular person before initiating contact, how the person can run away if the police have no such reason, etc. And then I think about how the contrary precedents about airports just carve this huge hole out of the 4th amendment. All the things that those precedents warn against--treating a person as a criminal because of a refusal to submit to an initial groundless interrogation, etc.--are in place as the actual state of the regulations and even law in airports, and that's just been carved out as an "exception" by the courts.

I realize that's somewhat OT, but it just shows how much we have to hang onto our right not to be randomly questioned, detained, and searched when going about our lawful activities and using our freedom of movement. In fact, that's one reason not only this appeal but a lawsuit is important--too many police have the idea that the 4th amendment means nothing, and seeing the TSA get away with it cannot help them get a clue. In fact, random bag searches were just instituted in a major city (DC, I believe) on the subway! So more "exceptions" to one's right not to be stopped by the police while going about one's innocent activities are being carved out right now.

Teri said...

I just read through the brief, which by the way, is incredibly well written and engaging. I didn't know about the comments made by the police officer regarding pain and suffering and that Negeen should be released. I pray a new judge is favorable.