Those who remember the Warren Court recall imaginative renderings of the constitution to expand criminal’s rights coupled with outright judicial hostility to police. The result was a national crime wave only recently curbed by new police techniques and more favorable rulings from the Supreme Court.
The suspect, Lonnie Ray Davis, was pulled over for violating a Michigan law prohibiting “dangling ornaments” that obstruct a driver’s vision. Davis had a 4” Tweety Bird statue dangling by a 3” string on his rear view mirror.
When he was pulled over, Davis admitted he had no drivers license, and was arrested. A search revealed an open pint of Hennessey Cognac, a stun gun in his waist, 2 baggies of crack cocaine in his sock, four rolled up wads of cash in his pocket, and a loaded .380 pistol under the drivers’ seat.
So, we have Tweety Bird, open booze, no license, two weapons, illicit drugs packaged for sale, and the apparent proceeds of prior sales. What were the honorable judges of the Sixth Circuit worried about? Tweety Bird, of course! You just can’t trust those cops, the judges concluded, to tell the difference between a dangling Tweety Bird ornament (not allowed) and a parking pass (ok). Even though Davis’ lawyers had not even raised the point, the judges struck down the Michigan “ornament” law finding it too vague to trust police with enforcing it.
LOS ANGELES – Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, the state’s high court on Thursday said a would-be Good Samaritan accused of rendering her friend paraplegic by pulling her from a wrecked car “like a rag doll” can be sued.
California’s Supreme Court ruled that the state’s Good Samaritan law only protects people from liability if the are administering emergency medical care, and that Lisa Torti’s attempted rescue of her friend didn’t qualify.
Justice Carlos Moreno wrote for a unanimous court that a person is not obligated to come to someone’s aid.
“If, however, a person elects to come to someone’s aid, he or she has a duty to exercise due care,” he wrote.
Torti had argued that she should still be protected from a lawsuit because she was giving “medical care” when she pulled her friend from a car wreck.
Alexandra Van Horn was in the front passenger seat of a car that slammed into a light pole at 45 mph on Nov. 1, 2004, according to her negligence lawsuit.
Torti was a passenger in a car that was following behind the vehicle and stopped after the crash. Torti said when she came across the wreck she feared the car was going to explode and pulled Van Horn out. Van Horn testified that Torti pulled her out of the wreckage “like a rag doll.” Van Horn blamed her friend for her paralysis.
Whether Torti is ultimately liable is still to be determined, but Van Horn’s lawsuit can go forward, the Supreme Court ruled.
Beverly Hills lawyer Robert Hutchinson, who represented Van Horn, said he’s pleased with the ruling.
Torti’s attorney, Ronald Kent, of Los Angeles didn’t immediately return a telephone call.