This is a little off topic for my practice, but not off topic for the world we live in. At Lund Law Carolina we aim to treat all of our clients with respect and we strive to understand the difficult situations that exist in each client’s life that has led them to our office.
These are challenging times for all of us, but not equally. We are easily reminded of that by watching the news or by listening to the crowds in our streets. The marching protestors have passed by our offices on Mint Street. They have walked through my neighborhood, close enough for me to hear from my kitchen the individual voices chanting.
Here’s a link to a decision published today by UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT. It’s not a decision from a disability claim, but in it I am reminded of the struggles of the homeless clients that I have tried to help for nearly 20 years. Many struggle with mental health issues, as does the subject of the story presented in this decision. The narrative portion makes for a frightening read. It is as timely as any decision from the courts that I can recall. This is an excerpt from the decision:
Wayne Jones was killed just over one year before the Ferguson, Missouri shooting of Michael Brown would once again draw national scrutiny to police shootings of black people in the United States. Seven years later, we are asked to decide whether it was clearly established that five officers could not shoot a man 22 times as he lay motionless on the ground. Although we recognize that our police officers are often asked to make splitsecond decisions, we expect them to do so with respect for the dignity and worth of black lives. Before the ink dried on this opinion, the FBI opened an investigation into yet another death of a black man at the hands of police, this time George Floyd in Minneapolis. This has to stop. To award qualified immunity at the summary judgment stage in this case would signal absolute immunity for fear-based use of deadly force, which we cannot accept. The district court’s grant of summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds is reversed, and the dismissal of that claim is hereby vacated. [Emphasis added]
This is the sort of decision (well written, too) that sounds like the denouement of an excellent legal drama, but in reality it’s an ongoing battle. This is the sort of victory that can pave the way for actual equality under the law. It’s up to us as citizens and human beings to continue to work for equality in fact.