In a case that began nearly a decade ago, a federal appellate court recently rejected a New Haven man’s appeal of a $1 verdict. The nominal verdict was awarded in the man’s civil suit, during which he claimed the use of excessive force by police officers from Hamden and New Haven in the course of his 2006 arrest for assault.
According to reports, police were called to the man’s house, and when he refused to answer questions, a warrant was obtained for his arrest. When police attempted to arrest him, the man tried to flee in his car. Police stopped the vehicle and removed the man, who reportedly swung at officers and tried to run. The man grabbed a tree branch, swinging it like a baseball bat, trying to fend off police. In the end, four officers subdued and arrested him.
Although the charges against the man from that particular arrest were dropped, the arrest was a violation of an earlier probation, leading to six and a half years in prison. The man sued the arresting officers, claiming excessive force and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He began the process with the help of a pro bono attorney, but by the beginning of the trial he represented himself. Based on the evidence presented, the jury found that one of the officers did, in fact, assault the man but only awarded nominal damages in the amount of $1.
The man appealed on the basis of faulty counsel and that there were too few minorities in the jury pool, a violation of the Jury Selection and Service Act. The appeals court determined that there was no record of the man’s dissatisfaction with his pro bono attorney and that “ineffective assistance claims are not cognizable in a civil case.” The court went on to say that claiming that minorities were underrepresented was not enough; the man would have to show evidence of systemic and intentional exclusion to prove a violation of the of the Jury Selection and Service Act.
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The case in question may serve as a reminder of closely intertwined criminal and civil proceedings can be. In most such situations, however, the criminal allegations must be addressed first. If you are facing criminal charges of any kind, contact an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney. We will review your case and help you build a defense that protects both your rights and your future. Our knowledgeable team can also assist you in identifying damages that may have been caused by the actions or negligence of law enforcement or other public officials. No matter what type of challenges you may be dealing with, Woolf Law Firm, LLC, is here for you. Call [[phone1]] today to schedule a confidential consultation.