Supremes rule on car pursuit
Scott v. Harris, handed down this morning. A high speed chase that ended with the fleeing person rolling the car and being paralyzed, after a police car bumped it from behind to end the chase. Supreme Court sustains summary judgment for the officer.
This was the case that had bench comments during oral argument: plaintiff's version was that he endangered nobody, but the police cruiser had a video running, and it showed an extremely dangerous flight thru the center of town. Some justices essentially asked -- are you saying that for summary judgment we have to accept plaintiff's version, even when we can see on the video that it's bunkum?
Scalia writes the opinion, and as might be expected, it's a little saucy:
"Indeed, reading the lower court’s opinion, one gets the impression that respondent, rather than fleeing from police, was attempting to pass his driving test..."
"Justice Stevens hypothesizes that these cars “had already pulled to the side of the road or were driving along the shoulder because they heard the police sirens or saw the flashing lights,” so that “[a] jury could certainly conclude that those motorists were exposed to no greater risk than persons who take the same action in response to a speeding ambulance.” Post, at 3. It is not our experience that ambulances and fire engines careen down two-lane roads at 85-plus miles per hour, with an unmarked scout car out in front of them."
Oh, and in a first, the Court puts the videotape exhibit online for all to see, as it notes in Fn. 5:
"Justice Stevens suggests that our reaction to the videotape is somehow idiosyncratic, and seems to believe we are misrepresenting its contents. See post, at 4 (dissenting opinion) (“In sum, the factual statements by the Court of Appeals quoted by the Court … were entirely accurate”). We are happy to allow the videotape to speak for itself. See Record 36, Exh. A, available at http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/video/scott_v_harris.rmvb and in Clerk of Court’s case file."