Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Keep up the good work Officer!

Adam C. Weinstein has sued the Belleville, IL police department alleging a violation of his constitutional rights. Media reports do not indicate whether the police officer in question is being sued personally. (Editor's Note: I really hope that he is.)

Weinstein was arrested in 2006 outside a bar in Belleville, IL for "impersonating a police officer."

According to the lawsuit, a waitress told Weinstein that some police officers wanted to speak with him outside the bar. At the time, Weinstein was wearing a black t-shirt with the word "POLICE" typed across the front.

Weinstein went outside and was greeted by Belleville Police Officer Jeff Vernatti. Vernatti, Weinstein alleges, asked him for his police credentials. Weinstein says he told the officer he didn’t have any credentials because he wasn’t a police officer.

That’s when, according to Weinstein, the police officer started screaming curse words and became physically and verbally abusive. Weinstein says he was cuffed, but later released by the officer. He also says that he was made to take the t-shirt off while standing in the cold.

Weinstein was ticketed for impersonating a police officer. The ticket ONLY ALLEGED THAT WEINSTEIN WORE THE SHIRT. Nothing else! The ticket was eventually dismissed. Now Weinstein is suing.

Holy cow! What an idiot. I'll bet this officer also wants to arrest all 40 million people who bought NYPD hats after 9-11 for "impersonating fire fighters." Seems to me that one should be free from arrest for the words printed on his clothing under the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, but maybe I am wrong. We'll wait to see how this one plays out.

Have a safe and happy new year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Is Cheerleading a Sport?

I don't know. At least not officially.

The Wisconsin Appellate Court recently refused to decide whether cheerleading is in fact a sport. That court assumed that cheerleading is a sport, for purposes of a recent opinion, but failed to actually hold that cheerleading was a sport.

The Court did, however, hold that cheerleading is not a "contact sport," as that was the true issue before the court.

The case involved a ninth-grade cheerleader's suit against another cheerleader for negligence in failing to properly spot her during a stunt and causing her to fall from a pyramid and suffer a severe head injury.

The defense claimed immunity from negligence liability under a Wisconsin statute that provides that a participant “in a recreational activity that includes physical contact between persons in a sport involving amateur teams” is liable only for causing injury to another participant by acting “recklessly or with intent to cause injury.”

In Noffke v. Bakke, 748 N.W.2d 195 (Wis. App. 2008), the Court held that cheerleading is not a “contact sport” for purposes of this statute. It concluded that, although “the risks and the athleticism involved in cheerleading are comparable to those in contact sports,” cheerleading is not a “contact sport” because “it does not involve physical contact between opponents.”

Therefore, the Wisconsin statute at issue did not bar plaintiff's negligence claim against the defendant.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court granted the defendant's petition to appeal this ruling, and the case is awaiting decision after oral argument last fall.

Maybe then we will get an official ruling as to whether cheerleading is actually a sport.

(Article courtesy of the Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog.)