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Judgment for Protesters Based on Unlawful Arrest at Republican Convention Partially Affirmed

By FindLaw Staff on June 30, 2010 2:27 PM

McCabe v. Parker, No. 09-1185, involved an action based on plaintiffs' arrest for trespass and subjection to a strip and visual body cavity search in the course of their protest at the 2004 Republican National Convention.  The court of appeals partially affirmed partial judgment for plaintiffs, holding that 1) the district court's evidentiary rulings were not abuses of discretion and did not  substantially impact the jury's answer to the probable cause inquiry; and 2) because an officer did not commit a constitutional violation in arresting plaintiffs, it necessarily followed that he could not be held liable for any damages arising from the unlawful searches that followed the arrests.  However, the court reversed in part on the ground that the district court failed to calculate how much a $75,000 award for an incident that occurred in 1978 would equal for an incident that occurred in 2004 after adjusting for inflation.

As the court wrote:  "Alice McCabe and Christine Nelson attended a 2004 Republican campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to protest President Bush's position on the Iraq war. After being arrested for trespass and subjected to a strip and visual body cavity search at the Linn County jail, McCabe and Nelson brought suit against several federal, state, and county officials alleging violations of the First and Fourth Amendments. Most of the claims were dismissed before trial. The case went to trial against one secret service agent on claims arising from the alleged unlawful arrests and against the county jailer who conducted the strip and visual body cavity searches."

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