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Court spectator sues judge for drug-testing him ‘on a hunch’

By Daniel Tencer
Wednesday, January 6, 2010 15:40 EDT
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A Tennessee judge who ordered a court spectator to submit to a drug test based “on a hunch” is being sued for infringing on the spectator’s constitutional rights.

Benjamin Marchant’s lawsuit (PDF) against Dickson County Judge Durwood Moore says Marchant was a spectator in the court in January of 2009, waiting to give a friend a ride home, when Moore ordered sheriff’s deputies to administer a urinalysis on Marchant on nothing more than a “hunch.”

Marchant says he was released when the drug test came back negative.

His lawsuit states that Judge Moore admitted that he “routinely drug-screens ‘spectators’ in his courtroom if he ‘thinks’ they may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” a policy Moore reportedly calls “routine,” according to Courthouse News.

The lawsuit says Judge Moore was publicly censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court last May over the incident, and was ordered “to never violate a person’s constitutional rights as he did to the plaintiff.”

Marchant is suing the judge, Dickson County Sheriff Tom Wall, and numerous court employees and sheriff’s deputies, who “knowingly participated in the unlawful and illegal detention and seizure of the plaintiff … with no legally justifiable cause to do so.” The lawsuit says Marchant’s 14th amendment due process rights were violated.

“Only a plainly incompetent officer or a knowing participant would have taken place in such unlawful and unconstitutional procedures,” the lawsuit states.

According to The Dickson Herald, Marchant is suing for $1.5 million. No court date has been set.

 
 
 
 
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