Monday, February 23, 2009

Rancher ruling adds to border debate

This Washington Times article is the most thorough on the Barnett case I've run across so far. The photo is of Barnett turning the illegal immigrants over to the Border Patrol

U.S. District Judge John M. Roll, for starters, dismissed the claims of 10 of the illegals because they did not testify at trial. He then tossed related conspiracy complaints against Mr. Barnett's wife, Barbara, and his brother Donald, saying illegal immigrants had no constitutionally protected right to travel in the United States. Judge Roll said the Barnetts, who live in close proximity to the border, could reasonably assume that large groups of people they encountered hiding or trespassing on their property were doing so with the aid of smugglers. He said entering the United States illegally was a federal felony, for which a citizen's arrest was authorized under Arizona law. Ultimately, the jury of four men and four women decided that Mr. Barnett did not violate the civil rights of the remaining six plaintiffs and was not guilty of false imprisonment, battery and conspiracy as charged in the suit. "Citizens who live along the border, like citizens anywhere in the country, have a right to act in such instances," said David T. Hardy, one of Mr. Barnett's attorneys. "The vindication of the Barnetts should clear the way for other Americans to act responsibly without fear of specious and politically motivated lawsuits." The jury awarded $17,802 to the six remaining illegal immigrants on their claims of assault and the infliction of emotional distress - $7,500 each to two, $1,400 each to two others and $1 each to the remaining pair. It also ordered Mr. Barnett to pay $60,000 in punitive damages...A 2006 Arizona constitutional amendment bars awards of punitive damages to illegal immigrants, and Mr. Barnett's attorneys are expected to argue that the jury was given flawed instructions by the judge, which led to the award of those damages...

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