Hastings Law Professor Subject To Mistaken Drug Raid

Hastings Law Professor Clark Freshman has acquired some real-life material for his next class. Narcotics police raided his home on January 11th in the belief that he had an illegal marijuana growing operation. They found only a rather ticked off law professor.

Freshman’s rented penthouse was one of six addresses raided simultaneously in San Francisco that morning. Freshman was handcuffed in his bathrobe during the search and told the media that he told that police that they were breaking the law, but that “they just laughed at him” “I told them to call the judge and get their warrant updated . . . They just laughed at me — I guess that’s why they’re called pigs.”

Hastings is reportedly the main consultant to the television show Lie to Me. He teaches dispute resolution but there appeared to be little room for such mediation on this occasion.

Freshman says that he will sue the DEA and the SFPD for unlawful search and seizure of his home. He may regret his “pigs” comment, which could be elicited at trial to show hostility or prejudice the jury. I assume it would be the subject of a motion in limine by Freshman. He insists “[t]here will not be a better litigated case this century.”

It is likely that the warrant failed to distinguish between internal units — a common mistake that should invalidate the warrant. See, e.g., United States v. Votteller, 544 F.2d 1355 (6th Cir. 1976). As the Fifth Circuit has held, “Contemporary concepts of living such as multi-unit dwellings must not dilute [the defendant’s] right to privacy any more than is absolutely required. We believe that the backyard area of [the defendant’s] home is sufficiently removed and private in character that he could reasonably expect privacy. Thus . . . actual invasion into this protected area and search [thereof] violates the Fourth Amendment.” Fixel v. Wainwright, 492 F.2d 480, 484 (5th Cir. 1974).

Source: SF Weekly

Jonathan Turley

27 thoughts on “Hastings Law Professor Subject To Mistaken Drug Raid”

  1. BillH76,

    If he sues under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for the violation of his constitutional rights, then the cops are personally liable. In fact, they are personally liable BECAUSE they were on duty (acting “under color of any statute,” as section 1983 puts it). The city, however, might pay their damages. You might learn something about the law before you insult a law professor.

  2. The cops aren’t going to lose their houses at auction–not for damages in the lawsuit. The taxpayers will pick up the tab, since the cops were on duty. If Freshman doesn’t know that, he should go back to law school.

  3. I once was almost arrested by Sheriff’s deputies looking for someone who had a very different first name starting with the same initial as mine. Fortunately, there were people around who could vouch for me and I had photo ID.

  4. Thanks again eniobob. I hope he is successful in a civil action against the city of Columbia and the individual officers. The trauma that the child had to suffer is disturbing because you can hear one of the dogs whimpering early on in the video. They not only killed it, but let it suffer for awhile.

  5. raff:

    Drug raid inquiry is ongoing
    Target questions tactics of SWAT.

    By Brennan David Columbia Daily Tribune

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    A man whose home Columbia police raided in February on a narcotics search warrant has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and is contemplating a civil action against the department for shooting his two dogs during the raid.

    Family questions SWAT drug search that led to dog’s death [February 23, 2010]
    Video: Police video of the Feb. 11 SWAT raid

    Jonathan E. Whitworth, 25, of 1501 Kinloch Court entered into a plea agreement with the state to drop charges of possession of marijuana and second-degree child endangerment for a guilty plea to possession of drug paraphernalia.


    also from the above link:


  6. eniobob,
    thanks for additional information. all of that destruction and fear producing activitiy for a small amount of marijuana? Disgusting.

  7. Lottakatz,
    You hit the nail on the head about whe effects of the so-called War on Drugs. It is a war on minorities.
    that video was horrible. The sound of that wimpering dog is haunting. Do you know what happened in this case after the arrest?

  8. For above video:

    Which is More Dangerous: Marijuana or Machine Guns?

    This last February, a SWAT team broke into a Missouri family’s home, fired seven rounds at the family’s dogs, and arrested Jonathan E. Whitworth as his 7-year-old boy watched in horror.

    A man arrested on suspicion of drug charges and child endangerment said he is concerned with the actions of police who shot two dogs they described as “aggressive” while serving a drug-related search warrant at his home earlier this month in southwest Columbia.

    Whitworth was arrested, and his wife and 7-year-old son were present during the SWAT raid, Haden said. A second dog, which Whitworth’s attorney Jeff Hilbrenner described as a corgi, also was shot but was not killed.

    Police discovered a grinder, a pipe and a small amount of marijuana, Haden said. Because the SWAT team acts on the most updated information available, the team wanted to enter the house before marijuana believed to be at the location could be distributed, she said.

    Whitworth ultimately plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge for possession of drug paraphernalia. The drug and child endangerment charges were dropped.

    You can watch the SWAT raid on Whitworth below. It’s very disturbing.

    The only real “child endangerment” that I can find, is when the soldier-like “peace officers” stormed the house while firing shots at the boy’s dogs (who are clearly whining, not being aggressive).

    If you feel like you just watched a video depicting a military raid on suspects in Baghdad, you’re not alone. As Radley Balko put it:

    This is the blunt-end result of all the war imagery and militaristic rhetoric politicians have been spewing for the last 30 years—cops dressed like soldiers, barreling through the front door middle of the night, slaughtering the family pets, filling the house with bullets in the presence of children, then having the audacity to charge the parents with endangering their own kid.

    Conservative-icon William F. Buckley once noted that “nobody has ever been found dead from marijuana.” Yet we allow armed government agents to bust into private homes, terrorize innocent children, and shoot family pets while they’re at it?

    For what? Possessing a small amount of a plant that grows in the ground?

    As an individual, would you be morally justified in carrying out this violent act?

  9. The WoD has a couple of advantages, it disenfranchises a whole lot of people (mostly of color) and it has a lot of money going to all the players on both sides of the war. If old ladies have heart attacks because of faulty investigations, lawyers have their homes searched wrongly or people get killed as a byproduct of poor police procedure, so be it. No other tool is as effective or deployable so widely as a method of suppression and/or oppression. The government just loves drugs.

    This link may have already been posted here but it’s a good read so:



  10. Culheaths reference to DEA arrogance hits the mark. The insane War on Drugs has infected many LEO’s with arrogance and encouraged their illegal behavior in the pursuit of exactly what. I reiterate that the WoD is insane because it is repeating an experience in our history that was not only a totalfailure, but actually accelerated the “evil” they purported to stamp out. Now this was only for marijuana a relatively harmless passtime, with real evidence of medical benefit for some.

    When one gets to the so-called “hard” drugs like Heroin, Cocaine and Meth, each major bust only raises the profit being made by the dealers and drives the users to further depths in order to get the money to pay for their addiction. The irony of California voting down the legalization of marijuana, in the face of their huge budget problems, is replete with comic meaning, were it not for the havoc it wreaks.

  11. I don’t think that Faulty and Faculty and spelled that much different except the C where the professor justify so say to the wonderful officers…… See (C) you Pigs at the trough….. and as his posture grimaces say….You Made My Day…..

  12. Somebody should have listened to him during the search … he informed them they were breaking the law … he even pointed to how they were breaking the law. There goes the “mistake” or “ignorance” defense … along with that nice house in the suburbs and the chance their kids could do something more than flip burgers for the rest of their lives.

    And if the warrants were defective, doesn’t that mean anybody else they caught during this mass raid is free to walk?

    I watch Lie To Me … there’s a whole bunch of material here that the writers can use … the cops will be homeless but they can always feel the warmth of knowing many people are making a whole lot of money off their criminal stupidity.

  13. I’ll be watching for the case to appear on Lie to Me. What this case really talks to is the arrogance of DEA agents and cops in general.

  14. Outrage by a law professor wrongfully rousted out of his house by indifferent thugs with a faulty warrant?

    Why who’d have thunk it!

  15. Just think of those who do not have a law degree who this has happened to:

    “She was traumatized. Even the doctor said this is what happens when something traumatic happens. He said it’s usually like a death in the family or something like that just absolutely scares them half to death, and that is what has happened,” said Holl.”


    Other examples:


  16. He really shouldn’t have dropped the “pigs” line, but it appears that he is so indignant about what happened that it will be easy to show that hostility and revenge in his lawsuit, but why shouldn’t he be?

  17. …Freshman, who pledged to sue until “I see [the agents’] houses sold at auction and their kids’ college tuitions taken away from them. There will not be a better litigated case this century.”

    Sounds like the professor hasn’t calmed down yet. If he likes beer, maybe he and the cops can get together at the White House and settle this more amicably.

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