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Pattis & Cernovich "Flex Their Rights"

A law student who reads this blog recently had a run in with the police.  You can read about how he handled it over at his site.  Now, here is how two people who sue cops for a living interact with police.

I was in Connecticut for the week helping Norm get out from under a bunch of briefs.  The weather was miserable, the wind strong, and the front door to his office was flimsy.

And so he gets a call at 10 p.m. from his alarm company.  "The alarm went off at the office, Mike, want to go for a ride."  

We went to his office, disarmed the alarm, and shut the front door.  

The cop showed up just as we were leaving.  

He reasonably asked for identification.  Norm showed him his I.D.  It said, "Norman A. Pattis."  We were outside of the Law Offices of Norman A. Pattis.  The alarm company had alerted police that the alarm had gone off at the Law Offices of Norman A. Pattis.

End of story, right?

The guy with a neck thicker than his head demanded that Norm allow the cop to take a look around - you know, to make sure that Norm and I hadn't burglarized Norm's own office.  Norm was annoyed, but got out of his car.  As he started walking towards the office, I saw the cop lower his hand to his gun.  Yes, the cop was prepared to draw down on this very dangerous lawyer.

I pulled out my iPhone to look up local media numbers.  This cop was an idiot.  If Norm had slipped on the ice, there's no doubt that the cop would have drawn his gun and started firing.

After several minutes, Norm left his office safely, and we left realizing a couple of things.

One, how stupid was the cop?  If the cop had stopped me, demanding that I walk him through the office - cool.  But Norm was in his car - registered to Norman A. Pattis - outside of a law office that has Norman A. Pattis prominently displayed.  One need not have worked through Aristotle's Analytics to realize that the alarm was triggered by the wind.

Two, resistance is futile. 

We could have been dicks.  After all, the cop was.  What would that have gotten us?

We'd have been detained at the scene.  We'd have been forced to exit the vehicle, standing out in sub-zero weather.  The police would radio for backup, and we'd wait until someone logical came on the scene.  Eventually we'd have been let go.  

That's the best case.

Worst case involves a baton to the head.  Think that's not a threat?  Go work in a civil rights shop for a few weeks.  Plenty of people get knocked around for contempt of cop. 

That's a lot of drama...For what?  So that you could feed your narcissistic rage?  After all, flexing your rights is often simply about you.  Doesn't it feel so good to tell a cop to, "Fuck off!"  It's almost pornographic.  If you want to make everything in life about you, cool.  Just don't wrap up your wager in some higher garb.  Lashing out is about you - and only you.

Do you think that our flexing our rights would have changed the officer's future behavior?  Do you think a supervisor would have sat the moron down with a book on critical thinking?  Nothing would have happened to the police officer who couldn't pas 7th grade logic.

Had we wanted to sue, what result?  Nothing.  A court would have concluded that we were not seized under the Fourth Amendment, but instead were merely detained for an investigation.  The cop would get qualified immunity.

I understand the young law student's rage.  There is no legal duty to be nice to police.  In truth, one has a First Amendment right to be a prick.  While you can't legally yell, "Fire!" in a crowded theater, you can yell, "Fuck the police!" 

In reality, you'd be wiser to break the law rather than follow it.  Causing a public disturbance ("Fire!") is a misdemeanor diversion plea.  Telling a cop to fuck off is going to get you the ass beating of your life - in addition to charges of resisting and obstructing an officer and battery of an officer.

At the end of the day, you gotta get home safely.  If a cop wants to violate your rights, let him.  The best you can due is sue him later.  While courts are unfair, I'd gladly put my trust in a judge's hands before a cop's.