|“Guards! Seize that one! He looks too happy!”|
A rural Tennesee judge who “routinely” orders random spectators in his courtroom to be grabbed up and piss-tested for drugs, if he doesn’t like their looks, is finally being sued by an unhappy citizen.
The distinctly yokel-like judge, who ordered a court spectator to submit to a drug test based “on a hunch” is being sued for violating the spectator’s constitutional rights, reports Daniel Tercer at Raw Story.
Benjamin Marchant’s lawsuit against Dickson County Judge Durwood Moore says Marchant was a spectator in the court in January 2009, waiting to give a friend a ride home. Marchant was undoubtedly surprised when the judge ordered sheriff’s deputies to seize him and administer a urinalysis.
Officers grabbed Marchant, allegedly without any evidence of illegal behavior, and took him to a different place in the courthouse where he was forced to submit to a drug screen urinalysis. The man was released from custody when the drug test came back negative.
In Judge Moore’s courtroom, you are apparently considered a guilty doper until proven innocent.
According to Marchant’s lawsuit, Judge Moore admitted that he “routinely drug-screens ‘spectators’ in his courtroom if he ‘thinks’ they may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” according to Liz Potocsnak at Courthouse News.
In response to Marchant’s judicial ethics complaint, Judge Moore said plucking “suspicious” spectators from his courtroom and testing them for drugs was “the routine policy of the court.”
The lawsuit says Judge Moore has been publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court last May over the incident, and was ordered “to never violate a person’s constitutional rights as he did to the plaintiff.”
Judge Moore acknowledged he had violated Marchant’s rights. His censure by the Tennessee Supreme Court was the highest form of punishment short of seeking a judge’s removal from the bench.
In addition to Judge Moore, Marchant is also suing Dickson County Sheriff Tom Wall and numerous court employees and sheriff’s deputies, who “knowingly participated in the unlawful and illegal detention and seizure of the plaintiff… with no legally justifiable cause to do so.”
The lawsuit says Marchant’s 14th Amendment rights were violated.
“Only a plainly incompetent officer or a knowing participant would have taken place in such unlawful and unconstitutional procedures,” the lawsuit says.
According to The Dickson Herald, Marchant is suing for $1.5 million. He wants punitive damages for denial of his due process rights, outrageous conduct, violation of the Tennessee Human Rights Act, assault and battery, and false imprisonment.
No court date has been set.