Kozinski ruling on 4th Amendment
Both Instapundit and the Volokh Conspiracy are discussing a recent 9th Circuit opinion, in which Judge Kozinski upheld a judgment involving over $100K in punitives for police 4th Amendment violations. (As my friend Prof. Joe Olson noted, this is one more proof the country NEEDS Kozinski on the Supreme Court. Clue to Repubs: if there is an opening, it'd be hard for Demos to object very forcefully to him).
The facts are pretty eggregious. A guy leaves town, tells neighbor to watch his house. He's in a divorce proceeding, mentioned that he has an order of protection against the wife. Didn't mention that the judgment had just been entered, awarding her the house. She shows up and moves in. Neighbor calls police.
WIthout a warrant, police break thru back door, hold her at gunpoint, handcuff her and two friends, keep her in cuffs for an hour, treat her pretty impolitely, and finally let her go. As Kozinski notes, it would have been simple to ask her what she was doing there, or get the neighbor to call the ex husband to ask if she had a right to be there, or to ask her divorce attorney the same. Failing all that, they could at least have sought a telephonic warrant (and probably been turned down). The jury made the call, and there was nothing wrong with its ruling.
He ends up by suggesting that an appropriate response to the judgment would have been to write a check and send it with a letter of apology. The citizens of the city had spoken thru the jury, and there was no real basis for appeal. He sets it for a hearing on whether to give the lady double her costs as a penalty for a frivolous appeal.
UPDATE: my own take on why he isn't on the Supremes--the conservative movement really has two components, the rules-conservative (the world operates on rules and organizations to enforce them; if left alone things will go to hell) and the libertarian-conservative (rules and organizations are inefficient and abusive: if left alone people will do very nicely). They have relatively little in common except that liberalism hacks them off (I think maybe because liberalism involves essentially no rules as to matters of morality, which offends rules-conservatives, and unlimited rules as to anything else, which offends liberarian-conservatives).
Kozinski is libertarian-conservative, most of the Bush admin. is rules-conservative. It's probably something deeper than reason, pure instinct. They see him as ... well, his heart's in the right place, but a bit of a loose cannon. Better a guy who looks good in a suit, as it were. He might even (shudder) limit part of the war on terror (nevermind that the Supreme Court hardly ever touches that issue, it'd still be the way a non-con-law white house type saw the issue).