First Amendment

This Professor Shared Body Camera Footage of Cops Strip-Searching a Minor. Now, Prosecutors Want To Throw Him in Jail for It.

The move is a direct assault on the First Amendment.

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The Parish Attorney's Office for East Baton Rouge is seeking to jail a professor after he shared publicly available body camera footage showing a traffic stop where five Baton Rouge Police Department (BPRD) officers strip-searched a minor and then entered the family's home, with guns drawn, without a warrant or consent.

Thomas Frampton, associate professor of law at the University of Virginia, acquired the video, which was originally obtained and published by Reason. The report attracted significant national attention, ultimately prompting a BRPD press conference on May 28, when the department defended the strip search but said a review was underway as it pertained to the warrantless home entry.

During that presser, Frampton received notice that East Baton Rouge Parish Attorney Anderson "Andy" Dotson III, Assistant Parish Attorney Deelee S. Morris, and Special Assistant Parish Attorney Joseph K. Scott III had filed an order to hold him in contempt of court and put him behind bars for up to six months. The request cites a Louisiana state law that prohibits disseminating "records and reports" relevant to juvenile court proceedings.

Such a proceeding doesn't exist.

In a June 2 letter to Dotson obtained by Reason, Nora Ahmed, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, notes that "there is not now (nor has there ever been) a 'matter or proceeding before the juvenile court' related to the events depicted on the videos." The government made the footage public in November of last year.

Dotson did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The incident depicted occurred on January 1, 2020, when five BRPD cops strip-searched a minor and his brother, Clarence Green, then 23, because the officers allegedly smelled marijuana. After traveling to the Greens' household, they then conducted a warrantless search of the property. Green was indicted for illegally possessing a firearm, which he was prohibited from having while on probation for possession of oxycodone, according to incident reports.

He sat in jail for five months—until the state abruptly dropped the charges. Judge Brian A. Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana signed off on that request, but in a highly unusual move, he took the opportunity to berate the police for their "serious and wanton disregard for [the Green family's] constitutional rights."

Clarence's brother, who was 16 at the time and whose name has been redacted since he is a juvenile, does not and did not have any proceedings against him.

Perhaps ironically, Dotson's petition to jail Frampton invokes the "substantial amount of negative correspondence from the public" that BRPD has received since the footage's release—as if that were an apt legal justification to jail someone for sharing public information. Frampton, who represented the Greens in a civil suit against BRPD, shared the video at the behest of the family. They recently settled with the city for $35,000.

Ahmed, who is representing the professor, tells Reason that "it's inescapable to think that [this] is not an attempt to ensure [he] does not speak out."

Indeed, there are some serious First Amendment implications, says Eugene Volokh, who is a professor of law at UCLA and an expert on free speech issues.

"Let's say somebody wants to testify that they saw some juvenile committing a crime, or some crime committed against a juvenile…the fact that they're going to testify about it doesn't keep them from telling their story to the media," he tells Reason. "Likewise, if there is some video evidence that's been released to the public and that's been admitted in evidence in some particular other adult court case, it doesn't become somehow secret and prohibited from being published simply because it might be used at some point in a juvenile court hearing."

The Green family's civil suit was formally dismissed after they agreed to the settlement. Accountability, however, is still elusive. That sum will come completely out of taxpayers' pockets, and the officers will evade having to answer for themselves in a civil court proceeding. Perhaps most troubling is that they kept their jobs.

That includes Sergeant Ken Camallo, the officer who initiated the traffic stop and has conducted three warrantless searches since 2017. He testified that his disciplinary record was clean while under oath in a November 2020 motions hearing for the Green case.

When asked by Jackson if that was true, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kashan Pathan answered in the affirmative. Yet just three years prior, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Louisiana, where Pathan works, had to drop a case against a man indicted on illegal weapons charges—because Camallo unlawfully searched his property. BRPD internal affairs documentation indicates that he executed another warrantless search in 2019, and again in 2020 with the Greens. A disciplinary review is ongoing.

"I'm not really surprised in the sense that if Baton Rouge thinks that it's okay to strip-search citizens in public, including children, and run into homes, guns drawn, without a warrant…the fact they'd go after a law professor for releasing the video isn't a huge shock," Frampton tells Reason. "At the same time, it's a little surprising they'd have the chutzpah to claim that they were interested in the juvenile's privacy as the rationale for why I'm facing jail time when the city and police department have made abundantly clear that they have no respect for the privacy and dignity of children, or the population at large."

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  1. “….the city and police department have made abundantly clear that they have no respect for the privacy and dignity of children, or the population at large.”

    Does that somehow make this particular city and police department unique?

    1. I feel like Dotson is about to make the acquaintance of Barbara Streisand.

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  2. I bet the ACLU is all over this…wait, did you say somebody has to drive 40 miles to Planned Parenthood? We’re on the case!

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  4. The Green family originally filed a civil suit, thought that was eventually dismissed after they agreed to the settlement. Accountability, however, is still elusive. That sum will come completely out of taxpayers’ pockets, and the officers will evade having to answer for themselves in a civil court proceeding. Perhaps most troubling is that they kept their jobs.

    Just a reminder, if Qualified Immunity were to be eliminated, by this own publication’s reporting, they would most likely be “indemnified” by their employer (the city) and those funds WOULD STILL come out of taxpayers pockets.

    I asked this question before, and have not received a satisfactory answer:

    If the point of ending QI was temper public agents worst impulses by making them directly financially responsible for their misdeeds, what will have been accomplished if the agent never sees the inside of a courtroom, nor pays a dime in damages– let alone keeps their job?

    1. I thought I’d seen that addressed in some of the proposed QI reforms, as in specifically prohibiting their employer from covering their damages.

      1. I don’t catch every article everywhere, can you link me to a district or serious proposal that intends to end QI AND block indemnification?

        1. No I can’t. As I said I thought I’d seen it discussed. Don’t know if it was an article or in the comments.

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      2. Because prohibiting people from doing things that are not directly harmful is OK?

        1. Blocking indemnification really would be two wrongs not making any of it right.

          But, it would be entirely in keeping with Reason’s idea of libertarianism, which is simply government imposition of their preferred outcome.

    2. Here’s your answer – if it won’t make a difference the it’s not needed. So we can get rid of QI since the employer already protects the employee it is not needed.

      1. No argument there. So we shuffle some paperwork around and we’re right back to where we started?

        1. Well, no. If you eliminate QI but still allow for indemnification, the victims get their day in court and the city is (hopefully) held accountable for their employees’ misdeeds. Yeah, the penalty is paid by the taxpayers. But at least you get to an affirmative decision that what the crooked cop did was wrong.

          Contrast that to the status quo where QI prevents victims from even getting their cases heard.

          Okay, yes there are a subset of cases where victims can sue the city and be compensated even if the individual officers are protected by QI. But the standards for suing the city/employer are considerably higher than for suing the person responsible. To sue the city, you have to prove not only that Officer A did prohibited thing B but that supervisors C-X knew about and condoned it.

          1. allow direct legal action, civil and criminal, as appropriate, agasint the crooked coppers. No employer backup, If the guy hs done wrong, and the court uphold the charge, the guy has topay, and whether he can keep is ability to gain future eployment should also be an item on the table. These dirty coppers trashing rights to warrants before searsh, “dropping” dope bags and untraceable guns at scenes, etc (think Officer Gounes of Houston) falsifyling “testiony” to support warrants, searching wuithout warrants OR justifiable cause (the “contact” was not AT the residence, it was sone ways away, so it was not directly connected to the issues involved in the contact”. thus the busting in to the family home w TOTALLY unwarranted.. in both senses of that fun word. Either the police deparaatments fail to train their coppers in law and policy, or they fail to hold them accountable when the coppers cross over that line. Either way, it puts the pUBLIC at high risk.. even of death, as in the Goines case out of Houston..HE is being held to account.. almost a miracle in itself, coning out of Houston. It is the FAILURE of the Departments to hold them accountable. When the little violations and abuses are ignored, laughted over in the break room (like the sheriff I recentlu learned about who had a drug dog would “hit” on every run, and used that “alert” to “justify” searches and seizures and arrests, even though he KNEW his dog was “hitting” falsely some forty percent of the time, they laughed about it in the break room….. and now there is someone dead because of it. THAT dirty copper ought to be jailed for his perjury in every unjustified contact” and arrest. False information on the written copalints.. … jail time no gun, no badge, ever. Oh, and personally recompense all the falsey accused.unjustifiably detained/arrested VICTIMS would also be just and right and fair. It might send a good message

            But he’s still out there doing it.

            1. Here’s an idea. Let the Police Unions foot the bill. I bet that shit shops FAST!

            2. “allow direct legal action, civil and criminal, as appropriate, agasint the crooked coppers.”

              You have a population of people with lots of time on their hands, and very likely some powerful grudges against the cops what busted up their criminal activities. What possible harm could come from letting them all file whatever lawsuits they want? Sure, the crooked cops will get sued, but so will the non-crooked ones. Eventually, you’ll get a decline in prison population, because the non-crooked cops are too busy appearing in court to be out arresting criminals. Other than that, great idea!

        2. No, in this case we stop shuffling paper around and end up in the same place.

          Same place, same outcome, less work involved.

          1. Then how will the associates meet their billable targets?

        3. “we shuffle some paperwork around and we’re right back to where we started?”

          Maybe. Maybe not. Few municipalities are going to be able to self indemnify, and the ones that do try may not do it for very long.

          In a short period of time it will become much like bond ratings – where places that adhere to recognized standards and achieve good compliance from their employees pay lower rates than the BRPDs of the world.

          1. Unless it turns out to be cheaper to just not bother hiring any cops at all, and you get a race to the bottom.

      2. I can see an argument for QI, but it assumes people being honest and acting in good faith. So that excludes cops, since they are incapable of doing either.

    3. One thought I had on this problem would be that each officer would have to get an individual insurance policy in their name (probably paid for by the taxpayer but whatever) and then it would be on the insurer if they continue to write a policy for the officer. For example an officer with 7 police brutality claims in one year may become uninsurable and is effectively terminated due to lack of insurance. And upon leaving that department their insurance records would follow them making it so no other department could hire them due to lack of insurance.

    4. I think the difference would be that it could more directly provide grounds for dismissal.

      *could*

    5. The primary point to getting rid of QI is to give compensation to the victims of police abuse.

      A secondary benefit is putting financial pressure on municipalities and PDs to get rid of frequent offenders.

      1. I can already see the political attack ads.
        Some helpless looking old lady is cowering in her kitchen, while scraping noises are coming from the window. She’s on the (land)line to the 911 operator, who’s telling her that there aren’t any police officers available right now, because (candidate X) made the city fire all the cops. Cut to the telephone handset hanging motionless, with the sound of a dial-tone audible.
        An ad like that SHOULDN’T work, but it does.

    6. Well opponents of ending QI also need to decide what their argument is. Typically they say it will discourage anyone from becoming a law enforcement officer through fear of personal liability from frivolous lawsuits. But when we point out that cities will almost certainly indemnify their officers the objection becomes that this puts taxpayers on the hook. Which is it?

      1. I hate to tell you this, but people who advocate something are allowed to have more than one reason why they think it’s a good idea.

        What you need is a more effective way of kicking frivolous lawsuits out of court, that doesn’t accidentally kick some meritorious lawsuits out with the frivolous ones. Get that, and you don’t have to worry about frivolous lawsuits. Any ideas?

        1. Loser pays. Filing a lawsuit is initiating force; that should carry a penalty if the plaintiff is in the wrong.

  5. if your on probation police do not have to have a Warrant to search your home its part of the probation. you may not like that part then change it otherwise the rest sounds bad

    1. Yeah, actually they do.

      Your *probation* officer may not but random cops can’t just come in any time they want.

      1. The proper answer is: It depends. But POs generally have unfettered access.

        1. Anybody has unfettered access unless someone or something places a limit. 4th amendment warrant requirements are supposed to limit government agents, but they won’t unless judges actually impose limits that are honored by the law enforcement agencies. Too many judges are deferential to the agencies.

  6. He testified that his disciplinary record was clean while under oath in a November 2020 motions hearing for the Green case.

    When asked by Jackson if that was true, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kashan Pathan said that it was. But just three years prior, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana, where Pathan works, had to drop a case against a man indicted on illegal weapons charges—because Camallo unlawfully searched his property. BRPD internal affairs documentation indicates that he executed another warrantless search in 2019, and again in 2020 with the Greens. A disciplinary review is ongoing.

    Anyhoo, moving on to the behavior of these particular cops, I’m wondering if Camallo was technically telling the truth based on the messy way in which Unions run our policing.

    These incidents happened and are documented, but perhaps they’re not on his personnel record due to all the crap where Unions plead things away, have negative incidents expunged after 18 months… and so on. Plus this: A disciplinary review is ongoing.

    From my reading that means officer friendly is still “innocent until proven guilty”. Until that disciplinary review makes its way through the sausage grinder that is the Union process, that’s not on his record.

  7. I’m guessing that Qualified Immunity now allows cops to manufacture child porn while on the job?

    1. Remember when Hawaii had to pass legislation to stop cops from having sex with hookers before arresting them?

      I suppose if there isn’t s specific department policy saying they can’t make child porn on the job, what’s going to stop them from doing it? The law? Haaa ha ha ha ha!

    2. QI protects from civil suits not criminal charges.

      1. Ahh. So, if nobody brings charges then there is no civil recourse for the parents or child?

    3. Sbp is going to be excited if that’s true

  8. He would have filmed the same cops murdering his own children. Lock him up and throw away the key.

  9. Baton Rouge? Isn’t that the city with a Black, Democratic mayor? There must be some mistake.

    1. I’m sure he’s very concerned about it, and will remain so until it blows over.

    2. There’s definitely a mistake in your understanding of who actually this mfer represents and who appointed him.

      1. Well, the mayor and city council appointed him. And they can remove him. He’s not elected like a sheriff – he’s a city employee.

  10. Thomas Frampton, associate professor of law at the University of Virginia, acquired the video, which was originally obtained and published by Reason.

    Tell you what, Frampton. Maybe we can work out some kind of a deal. What do you know about Robby Soave?

  11. “Dotson did not respond to multiple requests for comment.”

    Questions are being raised after Parish Attorney Andy Dotson flat-out refused to answer questions about why he doled out $121,000 in raises to 14 employees while he was acting as the interim parish attorney. 

    In August, the WBRZ Investigative Unit obtained documents from the Parish Attorney’s Office showing 14 employees received raises before the Metro Council appointed him as the parish attorney. A few weeks later, after requesting more documents we found some totaled $10,000 or more.

    https://www.wbrz.com/news/parish-attorney-refuses-to-answer-questions-about-whether-120-000-in-raises-were-legitimate/

  12. When all participants of a “system” are feeding from the same nose-bag, free from competition — and are allowed (by your neighbors and friends — hopefully not you) to
    • Make the laws,
    • Enforce the laws,
    • Prosecute the laws,
    • Hire the prosecutors,
    • License the “defense” attorneys,
    • Pay the “judges”,
    • Build the jails,
    • Contract jails out to private entities,
    • Employ and pay the wardens,
    • Employ and pay the guards,
    • Employ and pay the parole officers,
    One can’t honestly call it a “justice” system. It’s a system of abject tyranny.

    1. “When all participants of a “system” are feeding from the same nose-bag, free from competition… …One can’t honestly call it a “justice” system. It’s a system of abject tyranny.”

      True. Now consider what a Global Minimum Tax represents. And further consider that Reason’s only real problem with it is not that it is tyranny, but that it is not ‘competitive.’

      Just don’t call the writers here progressitarians.

  13. “…because the officers allegedly smelled marijuana.” Pigs can make up any ol’ probably cause they want!
    “Judge Brian A. Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana signed off on that request, but in a highly unusual move, he took the opportunity to berate the police for their ‘serious and wanton disregard for [the Green family’s] constitutional rights.’
    most troubling is that they kept their jobs.” NO ACCOUNTABILITY

  14. That includes Sergeant Ken Camallo, the officer who initiated the traffic stop and has conducted three warrantless searches since 2017. He testified that his disciplinary record was clean while under oath in a November 2020 motions hearing for the Green case.

    “When asked by Jackson if that was true, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kashan Pathan said that it was. But just three years prior, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana, where Pathan works, had to drop a case against a man indicted on illegal weapons charges—because Camallo unlawfully searched his property. BRPD internal affairs documentation indicates that he executed another warrantless search in 2019, and again in 2020 with the Greens.”

    This pig is still under investigation, not fired, under investigation…but just keep repeating it is a few bad apples!

    1. Cops aren’t killing blacks left and right, but they do pull this kind of shit with great frequency. Lots of low to mid level corrupt behavior.

    2. “This pig is still under investigation, not fired, under investigation”

      In this country, it is still customary to complete the investigation before assigning punishment. Don’t know how it works where you’re from.

  15. I find it concerning that this man is being hauled before the courts for sending out the video footage that had already been disrivuted into the public sector…. yet the individual/entity that authorised its release has not even been mentioned, and I seriously doubt that party will ever face any consequences. WHY is this so? Our man here could not have sent this out anywhere unless he’d first had free access to it from another source. He is NOT the one responsible. for its availability to the general public.

  16. Surely it should be illegal to distribute video of minors in an involuntary unclothed state, just as it should be illegal to involuntarily put them into an unclothed state.

    1. I didn’t watch the video, but I’m guessing it was pixelated.

      1. I didn’t watch the video, either. But I’m not so sure we’re talking about a censored video. The problem with pixelated video is that it doesn’t show anything. You can take a perfectly fine event and make it seem objectionable by censoring something that didn’t need to be censored. Are you familiar with the Jimmy Kimmel Show’s recurring feature, “Unnecessary Censorship” I suggest searching for some on YouTube (or whatever video site that isn’t owned by Google, if you roll that way).

  17. “Accountability, however, is still elusive. That sum will come completely out of taxpayers’ pockets.”

    That is accountability. If you’re going to hire thugs and refuse to reign them in, you should be held responsible for their behavior. Until the American people begin to understand their part in widespread civil liberties abuses, they deserve to be taxed to pay for police abuses.

    1. If the problem is caused by poor training, then the city should be paying in the first place. On the other hand, if they’re running good training and the cops are out there Harry-Calahanning it up, then the city didn’t do anything wrong. Entertainment media is full of cop stories about the cops that don’t play by the rules, they just get the criminals no matter what it takes. The public eats that crap up and asks for more. As far as the public is concerned, if bad things happen to criminals, that’s fine. But the non-criminals aren’t supposed to get treated that way.
      The core problem is that cops deal with criminals all day, every day at work. After a while, they may start to forget that some of the people out there are NOT criminals. Then, boom!, you shoot one unarmed black kid and suddenly there’s a problem.

  18. 18 USC 242 (Criminal) and 42 USC 1983 (Civil) deprivation of civil rights under color of law…

    Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

    1. 18 USC 242 (Criminal) and 42 USC 1983 should be used frequently against these rogue agents of the state.

  19. Sounds like the Jim Crow South. No doubt Dotson is a KKK member in good standing.

  20. This is why drug laws and such, even those with good intentions like DUI, inevitably lead to bullshit. If I am a police officer, I want to detain people, search people, and find crimes. That is what I am trained to do. And if you let cops take shortcuts (violations of the 4th amendment based on a ridiculous interpretation of probable cause) because they “smell” marijuana or alcohol or whatnot, you give them a free pas to search anyone at anytime. Obviously most will back off from anyone who seems “connected”, but the rest of us poor saps are fair game. And I don’t blame the cops for this. They did not setup this fucked up paradigm. The laws need to be changed, but all of our legislators, of either party, seem fine with this behavior since it doesn’t affect them at all.

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