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LUCAS v. UNITED STATES

September 30, 1977

THEODORE LUCAS, Plaintiff
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant


Green


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREEN

Plaintiff brings this action for assault, battery, false arrest and personal injury under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2671 et seq. He is seeking $50,000 in compensatory damages for loss of reputation, bodily injury and emotional distress. *fn1"

 This matter is currently before the Court for a decision on the merits following a trial to the Court on September 20 and 21, 1977. Upon consideration of the testimony of all the witnesses; those portions of a deposition in evidence; exhibits, arguments of counsel; and the entire record herein, the Court makes the following:

 Findings of Fact

 1. On June 12, 1975, a group of individuals were standing trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for the murder of Gail Cobb, the first female police officer killed in the line of duty in the United States. The trial was being held in Courtroom 11 on the second floor of Building A of the Superior Court, the special security courtroom, because defendants were reported to be part of a secret army of Black militants with political intentions, while Ms. Cobb's father was a law enforcement officer at Lorton Reformatory.

 2. Very heavy security was in effect in and around the spectator-packed courtroom throughout the proceedings, including personal security for the judge, members of the jury, and the defendants. A security team of nearly thirty (30) deputy U.S. Marshals was assigned to the security detail.

 3. The deputy marshals assigned to the security detail, including Deputy Marshals Jimmie L. Parker, Andrew Orenge, James Perry and Francis Phillips, were briefed prior to the commencement of the trial regarding the need for severe security measures required throughout the proceedings and the potential sources of security threats.

 4. Late on the afternoon of June 12, 1975, presiding Judge Joyce H. Green adjourned formal proceedings for the day, cleared the courtroom, and instructed the team of deputy marshals to remain in the courtroom to allow the defendants and their attorneys to hold a group conference. (The defendants were housed in widely separated facilities outside the District of Columbia). The judge expressly instructed the deputy marshals to remain in attendance for purposes of security and to assure that discussions between the defendants and counsel remained absolutely confidential.

 5. Shortly after the conference began, Deputy Marshal Francis Phillips observed a male figure outside the locked public doors at the side of the courtroom. Deputy Phillips indicated his observation to the other deputy marshals present and Deputy Marshal Jimmie L. Parker quickly left the courtroom.

 6. Upon entering the hallway, Deputy Parker encountered a man later identified as Mr. Herman Washington seated alone near the doorway and asked him if he had been at the door. Mr. Washington indicated that he had not but that a man who had been there had just gone down the hall towards the elevators.

 8. Deputy Parker hurriedly exited through the double doors of the middle entrance and called to the man. Simultaneously, he raised his badge and identification, which was contained in a black leather billfold, and identified himself as a deputy U.S. Marshal.

 9. The man failed to stop when called, so Deputy Parker raised his voice to gain his attention, all the time exhibiting his credentials. The man turned and approached Deputy Parker, asking what Deputy Parker wanted. Deputy Parker explained that he believed the man had been on the second floor near Courtroom 11 and might have breached the security of the courtroom. Deputy Parker asked the man for identification and received a card that appeared to be an employment card from NASA.

 10. Not recognizing the NASA card as a standard form of identification, Deputy Parker asked the man for his driver's license. The man became excited, belligerent and verbally abusive. He refused to cooperate with Deputy Parker and told Deputy Parker that he had all the identification he needed or was going to get. He then grabbed Deputy Parker's left arm near the hand that held the ...


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