Thursday, December 08, 2005

Don't Recite "Meet the Parents" While Flying Out of Miami

[Note, cross-posted at De Novo]

Along with the title, I've had a few thoughts running through my head following the shooting of Alpizar by Federal Air Marshals yesterday. First, Chris Matthews (my favorite Darrell Hammond character on SNL) asked if the Air Marshals were at risk of being sued. The answer of course is yes, but I don't know if the suit will be 12(b)(6)ed based on qualified immunity. So if anyone knows the answer to this, I'd definitely like to know.

Second, I couldn't help but chuckle (and no disrespect to the deceased) during the Gov newsconference yesterday. It sure sounds like this incident is a bureaucratic nightmare. Fed Air Marshals involved in a shooting. But shooting took place in the airport, so Miami-Dade PD has jurisdiction. FBI investigating possible terrorist related crimes or other crimes on the airplane. TSA in charge of passenger security, and so on. It is certainly refreshing to see government streamlined [sarcasm]. More substantively, if a few questions from reporters have to be passed around among the four people in charge of various aspects of the investigation, I would really hate to imagine how the actual investigation is going to be conducted.

Lastly, perhaps it's because I'm outlining for tax, but I'm reminded of Gilliam v. Commissioner, 5 T.C.M. 515 (1986) (holding that a Schizo going nuts on a flight, attacking a passenger, and getting charges against him dismissed for temporary insanity cannot claim a deduction for the legal fees as a business expense). So pre 9/11 you don't get a tax write off if you go nuts on a flight, post 9/11 you get shot. This paragraph is meant to be snide and not serious. The serious side of me has not fullly thought about how it would even be feasible to train Air Marshals to dintiguish the mentally ill from actual threats.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Air Marshalls Shoot and Kill Passenger in Miami
In Miami, Rigoberto Alpizar, a passenger reportedly suffering from a mental disorder, was killed by federal air marshals Wednesday. Witnesses say Alpizar ran off the plane after claiming he had a bomb in his backpack, shortly before it was set to take off. His wife followed behind him, yelling out to bystanders her husband had not taken medication for a serious bi-polar condition. Air marshals shot Alpiza five times when he refused to lie on the ground. No bombs were found in the backpack or in any of the plane’s luggage. Alpiza and his wife were reportedly traveling back from a missionary trip in Peru. The shooting marked the first time federal air marshals have used their guns aboard planes since they were introduced following the September 11th attacks.

12/08/2005 12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

re: the qualified immunity question.

c/o CJS:
The action of a federal officer affecting property claimed by a plaintiff can be made the basis of a suit for specific relief against the officer as an individual only if the officer's action is not within the officer's statutory powers or, if within those powers, only if the powers or their exercise in the particular case are constitutionally void.

So you have to prove either that the air marshal acted beyond his powers or that the law granting him authority to act was unconstitutional. If he/they was/were acting within his/their power, suit is precluded by sovereign immunity.

Or so sayeth my ass-licking Friday night finals-proscrastinating westlaw-puckered butt.

12/09/2005 10:01 PM  

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