Five years ago, local police stopped Leroy Duffie because he matched the “black male” part of the description of a so-called suspicious person.
A convenience store clerk called in a report of a passenger in a van holding what appeared to be a handgun and “acted like he was blowing smoke from the barrel.” The driver of the van—not the person holding the gun—was described as black, late teens or early 20s, with braids or short hair. Acting on this information, along with a rough description of the van, Lincoln police conducted a high-risk traffic stop on a bald 58-year-old double amputee:
Ordered out at gunpoint, Duffie fell to the ground as one of his prosthetic legs detached, he said. He knocked his teeth out and tore one of his rotator cuffs. Officers handcuffed Duffie as he lay on the ground and searched his car finding only a paintball gun Duffie said he planned to donate to a local charity. After several minutes, the officers seized the paintball gun and released Duffie.
Duffie sued the officers and the city on constitutional grounds. In June of last year, citing qualified immunity for the officers, U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Kopf granted the city’s request for summary judgment. Kopf’s other career highlights include a full spectrum of good, bad, and ugly:
- 2003: struck down Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act
- 2007: dismissed suit against state District Judge who banned use of words including rape, sexual assault kit, and assailant in a rape trial
- 2014: calls self a “dirty old man” in blog post about lawyers’ attire
Last week, the summary judgment against Duffie was reversed on appeal; the 8th Circuit returned the case for further proceedings. It will be interesting to see whether the city waits for a federal trial or appeals directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. Here’s hoping that Duffie has better luck of the draw on justices next time.
A note on Judge Kopf’s 2014 blog post, which was a step on the road to shuttering the blog—a year later—when he was informed that a “great majority” of Eighth Circuit employees felt that it was an embarrassment to the Court. Kopf’s idea of “hyperbole and somewhat mordant tone” is to admit “I have been a dirty old man ever since I was a very young man. Except, that is, when it comes to my daughters (and other young women that I care deeply about)” and then follow with this:
True story. Around these parts there is a wonderfully talented and very pretty female lawyer who is in her late twenties. She is brilliant, she writes well, she speaks eloquently, she is zealous but not overly so, she is always prepared, she treats others, including her opponents, with civility and respect, she wears very short skirts and shows lots of her ample chest. I especially appreciate the last two attributes.
The steaming bullshit of entitlement—I can’t even. I suppose that we should be happy that he doesn’t get horny for his daughters or for other young women about whom he cares deeply (despite waxing rhapsodic about his “tall, statuesque, and beautiful daughter” in the same blog post). Further classifying as sex objects all women who don’t fit either category is beyond artless; it’s disgusting.