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“We Didn’t Start the Fire”– But the NOPD Did Violate Franks v. Delaware

Quoting Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” federal Judge Carl Barbier recently denied the City of New Orleans’s Motion for Summary Judgment on two plaintiffs’ false arrest claims.  The Law Office represents the two plaintiffs, along with AJ Ibert and JC Lawrence.  The plaintiffs’ claims are based on the Supreme Court’s decision in Franks v. Delaware, 438 US 154 (1978), which held that it is a violation of the Fourth Amendment for a police officer to include false information in an arrest warrant for an individual.  Subsequent cases in the Fifth Circuit have held that it is also a Franks violation if an officer omits material exculpatory information from the warrant application.  Hart v. O’Brien, 127 F.3d 424, 448 (5th Cir. 1997).  In both situations, if there is no probable cause once the false information is removed and/or the true exculpatory information is added to the warrants, then the arrest violates the plaintiff’s rights.

In this case, Judge Barbier held that the plaintiffs’ evidence established a Franks violation.  According to his opinion, the New Orleans Police Officer involved in the case violated Franks by including false information in the arrest warrants, and by leaving out material, exculpatory information.

You can read the opinion in Richardson et al. v. Serpas et al.  below.  After this decision, the City agreed to a favorable settlement for the plaintiffs.

Ruling on Summary Judgment-Starks

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