Friday, June 23, 2017

10th Circuit: Qualified Immunity Protects Officer Who Told Suspect To Stop Praying

In Sause v. Bauer, (10th Cir., June 20, 2017), the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of appeal dismissed on qualified immunity grounds a suit for damages alleging that police who were investigating a noise complaint violated plaintiff's 1st Amendment rights when an officer who had come to her home ordered her to get up and stop praying. The court said:
It certainly wouldn’t be obvious to a reasonable officer that, in the midst of a legitimate investigation, the First Amendment would prohibit him or her from ordering the subject of that investigation to stand up and direct his or her attention to the officer—even if the subject of the investigation is involved in religiously-motivated conduct at the time, and even if what the officers say or do immediately after issuing that command does nothing to further their investigation.
The court also held that plaintiff lacks standing to sue for injunctive relief. Liberty Counsel issued a press release reacting to the decision.