Teasing the judge

The case of the flying imams is a study in modern jurisprudence that needs careful consideration. Scott Johnson says The flying imams win and discusses the implications at the Weekly Standard.

Montgomery [Minnesota federal district court before judge] emphasized the distinction between the suspicion necessary for lawful investigatory stops (a relatively low standard) and the probable cause necessary for arrests (a higher standard), and her comments addressing the issue raise lingering concerns. … The principal issue addressed by Montgomery’s decision is whether the law enforcement defendants were entitled to qualified immunity for their actions. This immunity protects government officials from monetary claims under circumstances where a reasonable officer would not know his conduct was illegal. Montgomery held that the flying imams were the subject of an unlawful arrest and that no reasonable law enforcement officer could have believed otherwise.

The issue to consider is the extent to which people are allowed to tweak and tease law enforcement. The decision here is a part of the preemptive effort against terrorism. Do we only allow law enforcement to act after a criminal offense has actually occurred or can preemptive measures be taken when there is suspicious behavior that fits a pattern? What can or should law enforcement do when you have a gang of folks who decide it’s a fun thing to tweak the fears of others and see what they can get away with.

In this case, it appears to have an analog to many lawsuits. Put yourself into a position where you get ‘harmed’ (but not really) so you can file a claim for damages and other moneys. It’s teasing the judge to get income. It seems to be a modern sport or vocation. It doesn’t seem to be an honest one but the judicial system does not seem to have any problems with it.

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