Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rancher cleared of violating rights of illegal immigrants

The Arizona Republic reports:

A federal jury has found that a southern Arizona rancher didn't violate the civil rights of a group of illegal immigrants who claimed he had detained them at gunpoint in 2004, but has ordered him to pay $77,000 in damages for four claims of assault and causing emotional distress. The verdict by the eight-member civil jury on Tuesday also found Roger Barnett wasn't liable on claims of battery and false imprisonment. Barnett declined to comment afterward, but one of his attorneys, David Hardy, said Barnett has a good basis for appeal on the two counts on which he lost because the jury didn't award full damages to the immigrants. For more than a decade, Barnett has been a controversial figure in southern Arizona. He's known for aggressively patrolling his ranch property and areas along highways and roads, often with his wife and brothers, on the lookout for illegal immigrants. The plaintiffs alleged that Barnett threatened them with his dog and told them he would shoot anyone who tried to escape. Barnett's lawyers argued that his land was inundated with illegal immigrants who left trash on his property, damaged his water supply and harmed his cattle. Barnett has been known to wear a holstered 9 mm pistol on his hip and upon encountering groups of migrants, to flash a blue and gold badge resembling that of the highway patrol, with the words: "Barnett Ranch Patrol. Cochise County. State of Arizona." The Barnetts detain and turn over immigrants to the U.S. Border Patrol. In 2006, Barnett estimated that he had detained more than 10,000 illegal immigrants in 10 years...

No comments: