Thursday, August 22, 2013

Chalk (another) one up for the little guy

Big brother is getting a beating this year
I've "seen" a lot of stuff being a law librarian: Judges who ignore the rules of court and then rationalize saying, "It's an appealable issue;"  Prosecutors who either don't prosecute someone because they feel sorry for them or they do prosecute someone because public opinion wants them to (not because the person actually did the crime); Attorneys who take money from clients and then don't do anything for said client - all while the State Bar seemingly turns a blind eye; Police who arrest the wrong people and get off with little more than a stern warning.  

Thing is, though, if there is one job on the planet that doesn't get much better over time, it's gotta be being a police officer.  I mean, these boys in blue go out, risking life every time they get out of their car, for what?  A base salary and depression?  To top it off, until just yesterday (Wednesday, August 21, 2013), police got it doubly hard.  See, until yesterday, if a police officer saw other police mistreating a prisoners and they "blew the whistle" on the mistreatment prisoner, they would have no first amendment protection and would undoubtedly suffer retaliation by fellow officers and supervisors as per Huppert v. City of Pittsburg, 574 F.3d 696 (2009).

On Wednesday, August 21, 2013, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals changed all that when it handed down Dahlia v. Rodriguez, 2013 DJDAR 11093 (2013).  In Dahlia, police officer Dahlia witnessed a superior threatening a suspect with a gun.  Dahlia told supervisor his concerns and supervisor told Dahlia to "stop his sniveling" and threatened Dahlia's job if he didn't man up.  Dahlia went to the FBI, told his story, and, well, the rest is history.  

Thing is, though, had Dahlia just told his internal superiors, I don't think anything would have changed.  Dahlia would have lost his case and Huppert would have remained the law of the land.  Strange how things turn out, sometimes.

In any event, while big brother keeps getting bigger, at least it's heartening to know that if you do happen to be incarcerated, there are police officers out there who are genuine and will look out for your best interests.