Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No More Strip-Searches of Pro-lifers in Maryland

At least one local government in Maryland will no longer shackle and strip-search demonstrators, now that Harford County has agreed to a settlement in a First Amendment lawsuit brought by Defend Life.

For background, read Maryland Pro-life Protesters Arrested for Loitering

-- From "County Settles Lawsuit With Anti-Abortion Group" posted at WBAL TV-11 Baltimore 3/7/11

Members of Defend Life were arrested by the Maryland State Police on Aug. 1, 2008, along Route 24 in Bel Air. The group was on its Face the Truth Tour in which it used graphic roadside posters depicting aborted babies.

The group admitted its methods may be shocking but said they have the right to protest and filed suit in federal court for a violation of their First Amendment rights.

When the lawsuit was originally filed, one of the women in the group said she was imprisoned, shackled and strip-searched twice.

CLICK HERE to read the entire article above; to view the video news report CLICK HERE.

From "Anti-abortion protesters celebrate their First Amendment 'victory' in Harford County" by Erika Butler, The Aegis (Baltimore Sun) 3/7/11

While court action is still pending against state and town police, Harford County has agreed to adopt a new county policy on how it conducts searches at its jail and to confidential settlements with eight of 18 people arrested in a 2008 anti-abortion protest.

Federal civil suits were filed last year against Harford County, the state police and Bel Air Police, complaining that the arrests were unnecessary and the group had a right to demonstrate based on the First Amendment.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Pro-Life Girls Shackled, Strip Searched Now Settle Lawsuit" by Steven Ertelt, 3/7/11

In January, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected an appeal taken by defendant police officers in a suit brought by Defend Life . . . The court granted a motion to dismiss the appeal filed by Thomas More Society’s special counsel.

The American Catholic Lawyer’s Association along with special counsel from the Thomas More Society are aggressively continuing forward with its lawsuit against the Maryland State Police and the town of Bel Air.

Motions to dismiss the entire lawsuit filed by the Town of Bel Air, Bel Air police officers, the Maryland State Police Superintendent and state police troopers were denied in May of 2010. Some of those defendants filed an immediate appeal, arguing that police acted in good faith and were therefore immune from suit.

The county initially announced the settlement in December but not all of the plaintiffs in the case signed the settlement. Today’s announcements indicates that has happened.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "County drops strip-searches for pro-life protesters" by Bob Unruh © 2011 WorldNetDaily 3/15/11

According to the claim filed on behalf of about 18 pro-life protesters, authorities violated the U.S. Constitution when they first ordered the protesters off of county property, then later when protesters complied and moved to city property, swooped down on them in seven police cars, shackled, strip-searched and jailed them.

The agreement provides for the county and several individuals to be dismissed as defendants based on the promised change in policy. Claims against other defendants remain.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.