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Reluctantly applying an objective standard to judge an officer’s motivation, the 1 st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on May 4 wiped out what remained of a $175,000 jury award to a man who claimed he was wrongfully stopped and then beaten up by a New Bedford, Mass., police officer. Bolton v. Taylor, No. 01-2227. The 1 st Circuit concluded that despite evidence of a subjective improper motivation, the facts supported the officer’s “reasonable suspicion” to make a Terry stop. “That said,” U.S. Circuit Judge Michael Boudin wrote for the court, “we join in the view�obviously shared by the district judge and the jury�that [plaintiff David] Bolton was badly treated by the police.” According to the court, New Bedford police officer Stephen Taylor watched Bolton drop off a known prostitute at a street corner where she was known to solicit clients. Bolton was said to have given Taylor a quick, nervous glance before driving away at high speed. After Taylor chased and then stopped Bolton, they had a fight in which Bolton was thrown down and struck, suffering severe injuries. Other officers were also involved. A jury convicted Bolton of assault and battery of a police officer and disturbing the peace. Bolton filed a civil rights suit against Taylor and the others in a Massachusetts federal court under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The jury rejected Bolton’s excessive force claim, but returned a $175,000 verdict for him on his false arrest claim against Taylor. Bolton had argued that Taylor’s stop was not lawful under the standards of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). Granting remittitur, U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock cut the award to $17,500, which Bolton accepted to avoid a new trial. Taylor then appealed. On appeal, the 1 st Circuit reviewed the Terry doctrine to determine if Taylor’s stop of Bolton was a “reasonable seizure” under the Fourth Amendment, and if it was “a comparatively brief ‘investigative stop,’ ” with an “ articulable suspicion” of criminal activity. Asking itself what deference was to be given to the jury’s finding that reasonable suspicion was unwarranted, the court answered that there is no deference given “where the raw facts are undisputed . . . and the only issue is one of law application.” Taylor claimed that he could reasonably have suspected Bolton’s involvement in several different criminal activities. The 1 st Circuit concluded that one of them�consorting with a prostitute�was objectively supported by the facts Taylor knew when he stopped Bolton.

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