Judge Refuses To Dismiss Suit Against Feds Who Arrested Former Marine For His Controversial Facebook Posts (Techdirt)
Wednesday August 14th, 2013
Almost exactly a year ago, former Marine Brandon Raub was taken from his home by federal agents and involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward, all because of some controversial postings to his Facebook account, including some 9/11 conspiracy-related articles and violent song lyrics.
On August 16, 2012, Raub was visited by local police, FBI agents and Secret Service personnel who questioned him about his Facebook posts. Raub was cooperative and discussed his activity with the officers, despite their not having a warrant. At some point, one of the agents made a call to Michael Campbell, a psychotherapist retained by the county who decided, despite having never met or observed Raub, that the former Marine was "potentially dangerous" and should be detained.
At that point, the collected officers cuffed Raub and took him to the local jail before having him committed to the mental hospital. Government officials later claimed Raub wasn't arrested, but the video taken of his "not being arrested" looks for all the world to the un-government-trained eye like an arrest.
After being detained for four days, Raub appeared before another judge who ordered him to be held for 30 days for evaluation. A short while later, this was overruled by Circuit Court Judge Allan Sharrett, who ordered Raub released immediately, stating that the prosecution's case was “so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy.” At this point, the Rutherford Institute, which had taken Raub's case after his "non-arrest," filed a lawsuit on his behalf against the officers and agents involved with his unlawful detainment.
Needless to say, the government has attempted to have this lawsuit dismissed. Fortunately for Raub (and the American public), the judge isn't willing to let the involved parties just walk away from their problem.
A federal judge in Richmond, Va., has refused to dismiss from a lawsuit several FBI and Secret Service agents as well as local police officers who arrested a military veteran based on an opinion from a counselor who had never met him that he might be a danger. The government agents named have claimed that officers only have to show "probable cause that the individual poses a danger to himself or others" in order to forcibly detain and commit civilians. Hudson has rebutted this claim, stating that these agents had no previous experience with Raub and were acting solely on the claims made by a third party, unless other facts indicating otherwise present themselves during the limited discovery. That handles the Fourth Amendment claims. The First Amendment claims brought by Raub also survived the motion to dismiss.
The decision came from U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson, who essentially said there is not enough information at this point in the case to dismiss the law enforcement defendants. He ordered limited discovery.
Hudson said the Rutherford Institute, which is representing Raub, had alleged sufficient facts to indicate that the involuntary commitment violated his rights under the U.S. Constitution’s First and Fourth Amendments.
[T]here is no dispute over whether political speech is protected or whether an arrest for political speech would adversely affect one's ability to further engage in political expression. And the third element -- causation -- may be inferred from Raub's allegation that the only knowledge the County Defendants had at the time of arrest concerned his political views. No one has a problem with law enforcement investigating threats, but all too often lately, these agencies have proven they are quick to act on very little information, much of it devoid of any context. Raub's case and other incidents involving social media all have one thing in common: the word "terrorist." The government's favorite witch hunt is hurting Americans, as zealous government entities are willing to see the implicit threat of terrorism everywhere someone tells them to look.
08 02 2013 Raub Opinion (PDF)