Monday, April 1, 2013

Three Motions to Dismiss Brought in Minnesota DRE Lawsuit

Last Spring, various law enforcement agencies in Minnesota worked together on picking people up and administering drugs to them.  The video showing this activity got a lot of views on and made national and international news.  A link to that video is here.

As I have covered on this blog before, some of the people who were subject to this testing brought a lawsuit against those who ran and participated in the program.

Now the State of Minnesota, Ramsey County and the "City and County Defendants" have brought three motions to dismiss this lawsuit.  This blog post is not intended in any way to be an official response to these motions, but rather as a vehicle to share these motions with the public.  Here are links to each of the memorandums of law in support of the motions to dismiss:

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson's Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi's Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss

"City and County" Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss

The gist of the arguments in these motions are that the government and its actors are immune from suit and they can pretty much do whatever they want.  An over-arching theme in each memorandum is that members of the public, including these Plaintiffs, are like terrorists who should never have any recourse against the government.  Each of the Memorandums cites to and discusses the case of Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009) about a fellow who was picked up and detained on suspicion of involvement in terrorism.

There are a few other gems worthy of some comment in these memorandums.  For example, I think the most hilarious and absurd argument made by any of the parties is made by the Minnesota Attorney General, who writes in opposition to the Plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief (to tell them to stop running the program): "Plaintiffs cannot show that any future injury is irreparable because there are adequate remedies available in state civil and criminal courts.  (Page 9, State's Memorandum).  What is so funny about this assertion is that no one was ever charged with any crime related to these alleged crimes.  On a Friday afternoon, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman had a press conference and declined to charge anyone.  Named in the suit is Riccardo Munoz, who was apparently the head of the DRE program at the time these incidents occurred.  Upon information and belief, he has not been fired for these actions.  Instead, the Minnesota Attorney General vigorously defends him and his actions and asks that he be dismissed from the lawsuit.

The Minnesota Attorney General also submits and Affidavit from Colonel Kevin Daly of the Minnesota State Patrol in support of its Motion to Dismiss.  In this Affidavit in paragraph 7, Col. Daly asserts: "On May 9, 2012, the DRE Program was suspended to further evaluate the DRE Program and Certification Process."  What's interesting about this affidavit is that it vaguely acknowledges some problems with the program, but at the same time asserts that DREs are still on the road in Minnesota using their "training" they received from the program.  Also, it appears that everyone who "graduated" from the program last April is a "Drug Recognition Evaluator."  Specifically, there was no problem with that episode of the program even though Col. Daly says in his affidavit that the program was "suspended."

It would be nice to know where the drugs were obtained from that were administered to the Plaintiffs and what they were.  If these units of government succeed in their motions, that question will probably never be answered.

One wonders at what point something like this becomes a political issue.  The persons making these decisions on how to handle these cases are elected people or working on the orders of elected people.  Do these elected people really think the conduct alleged in this Complaint (and admitted to) is acceptable?  Is there some point where someone stops passing the buck and resorting to hyper-technical arguments?  Will there ever be any real accountability for what went on here?

When our formal responses to these motions are filed, I will post them here.