Article Image Lawsuit Settlement Check

Police Defendants Pay $210,000 To Settle Illegal Roadblock Lawsuit

Written by Subject: Arizona's Top News

3,451 days after being seized, detained, dragged out of my vehicle & arrested at an illegal general law enforcement roadblock conducted by Tohono O'odham Police Dept. officers with the assistance of Senior Special U.S. Customs agents along with dozens of U.S. Border Patrol agents, Checkpoint USA's lawsuit has finally settled for $210,000 exactly 3,087 days after it was filed.

Originally filed in AZ Superior Court on December 19, 2003, this suit came on the heels of a year long (successful) battle in Ajo Justice Court to defend myself against several malicious charges brought against me by the defendant police officers and their enabler in the Pima County Attorney's Office, Philip Perkins. The case was removed from Arizona's Superior Court against our wishes & moved to the Tucson Federal District Court in 2004. This after the defendant police officers enlisted the aid of the U.S. Attorney's Office to certify they were federal employees due to a contract with the BIA and therefor couldn't be sued in state court.

After successfully moving the case to federal district court, the United States substituted itself in as the defendant for the malicious prosecution charge and the police defendants went on to argue they couldn't be sued in federal court on the remaining claims. The basis for their position was that despite the fact they were enforcing state law along a state highway as duly sworn state peace officers at the roadblock in question and were also operating as federal contractors with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to provide general law enforcement services on the reservation, they represented the Tohono O'odham Nation and therefor enjoyed sovereign immunity from suit. After several years of legal wrangling around this issue, district court judge John Roll bought into their argument and dismissed the lawsuit in 2007.

This was how the case ended up in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals later that same year before being remanded back to Tucson District Court in 2009 upon a largely successful appeal of Judge Roll's dismissal two years earlier.

After the successful appeal, the case languished in Judge Roll's court for nearly two more years during which time the judge failed or refused to schedule the case for further proceedings despite multiple requests to do so. This was where we were at until semi-retired 9th Circuit Judge Wallace Tashima took over the case after Judge Roll was shot & killed by gunman Jared Loughner at a Congresswoman Giffords event in January of 2011 in Tucson, AZ. After Judge Tashima took over the case, it underwent further discovery and was moving towards trial this month until settlement was reached & finalized on May 31, 2012.

During the course of the lawsuit, over 240 legal documents related to the case became part of the official court record. This breaks down to an average of roughly one new document filed with the court every 1.8 weeks over nearly nine years. I don't know how many pages make up all these documents but I do know they take up nearly two filing cabinet drawers in my office and hundreds of megabytes of disk space on my online lawsuit repository.

In addition to all the legal documents filed by both sides over the years, attorneys working on the case on my behalf logged somewhere on the order of 1,400 hours. While I don't know how many hours were logged by the U.S. Attorney's Office during the time frame it was involved or the attorneys working directly for the police defendants, it's most likely a similar order of magnitude. If this is accurate then somewhere around 3,000 hours were spent by attorneys on this case. Additionally, I'm fairly certain I spent at least as much time on the case as my attorneys and none of this analysis considers the amount of time the various courts/judges spent on it as well.

The purpose of the above analysis is to provide some measure of the level of effort that went into this lawsuit over the years. While a full review of the lawsuit and its implications are outside the scope of this blog entry (more to come later), I did want to establish a baseline for the work involved to serve as an indicator of just how appreciative I am of the support & assistance I received from so many people over the years. This includes everything from the countless supportive emails and comments I've received, the donations made by several individuals to help offset costs - especially during the early stages of the incident & the years of pro-bono legal assistance offered by different organizations and attorneys.

I want to give special thanks to the Identity Project, through the First Amendment Project, which assisted greatly with the case - especially during the time frame it was in the 9th circuit. And most importantly, I want to recognize the efforts of my attorney David Euchner who diligently worked this case from start to finish and did the lion's share of the legal work along with Ralph Ellinwood who signed on as co-counsel in April of 2010. Without their efforts, this case wouldn't have made it very far at all.

After the dust has settled and I've had more time to reflect on the case and its aftermath, I'll write a more detailed analysis of how I think things went and where to go from here but for now I wanted to provide a relatively brief overview of the genesis of the case for those less familiar with it along with timely public notice of the lawsuit's final disposition.

Once again, my thanks go out to all those who provided support and assistance over the years. Without it, there wouldn't be much to talk about today.

Below appears the legal documentation associated with final disposition of this case:

* Notice of Settlement - 15 May 2012

12 Comments in Response to

Comment by panocha
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 I want to listen more to these three experienced and successful practicing lawyers Brag, JV and Annomymous75 to learn more the bottom of this controversial "Settlement"  report. It looks like people are not ignorant of what is going on because they are supporters of this anti-police case. But if they know the case, I want to read the side of the police officers -- where is it? I ask you spokepersons of Osama bin Laden ...

Comment by Anonymous75
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In our U.S. jurisdiction, Settlement of court cases is usually kept confidential, unless the parties involved agree otherwise. In settlement cases, the party/ies sued DO NOT ADMIT TO ANY FAULT OR WRONGDOING in the underlying issue. That’s the core RATIONALE in the settlement of court cases.

In a litigation made more complex by the filing of charges and countercharges – as in this case – THERE IS NO ADMISSION of any fault or wrongdoing from both sides of the opposing parties when they decide to settle their respective cases against each another.

The settlement document signed by the parties involved is submitted to the Court to be ‘rolled into a court order". This published report should at least mention this important part [called the dispositive portion] of this alleged Settlement.

A responsible editor should have verified the existence of this court order to ascertain the truth or authenticity of this report before blazing the front page with this dubious if not devious headline.

Comment by brag
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The discussion of this topic is getting interesting, especially when lawyers participate. The subject is well within the ambit of our academic background and experience in the daily practice of law. I hope this legal debate is not marred or interrupted by kibitzers from the "lunatic fringe" one of whom had just barged in with his nonsense and very obvious ignorance of law.

Comment by Joseph Vanderville
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Seek the truth of this headline report by checking the facts. The way the report goes is to me very suspicious:

One there is NO $210,000 settlement amount ever mentioned in the report, by whom it was paid, when it was paid, and how it was paid [by insurance or paid out of public fund coming from any authorized or properly appropriated Government Fund], to whom it was paid, when and how it was paid.

Two, in settlement of cases, specific grounds and reasons for settlement is documented and signed by the parties [litigants] who agreed to "settle" the cases. None of these can be read in this report. This should be the focus of this suspect report – not just a mere recital of anti-government rhetoric.

Three, notice who is making this report, the arrested party Terry Bressi himself, a one-sided- biased source, the party litigant with an anti-Government ax to grind after the police arrested him for several violations that gave rise to the filing of the case.

Four, the legitimate role of the Press – which is this website – is to present a BALANCE news report to the public. This is not the scenario here.

It is obvious that the people running this website are not interested in "fair reporting", which is a fundamental requirement in the practice of legitimate journalism; clearly, the people who run this website are only interested in Government-bashing, the more vicious the anti-Government tirade is, the more it is guaranteed a space.

Take this as a public gesture of advice for the good of the general public: This headlined report looks more like one of those proliferating "r3volutionary" propaganda that frequently appear in this website, to promote hate against the Government, specifically to create bad feelings towards law enforcement officers who by doing their duty admirably and commendably well for reasons of national security and for the protection and safety of the American public, are heroically giving criminals, ruffians and ordinary thugs a hard time.

What I want to say finally to our readers is that in so far as reading this suspicious report is concerned, look first before you leap. If you want to jump into the swimming pool this long hot summer, be sure that the pool is not dry -- not as dry as this radical headline is ... Don’t be reckless … it is not good for your health. JV

Comment by PureTrust
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Being the legal shmuk that you are, you also know that the law doesn't apply to human beings until there is a quasi-contract/quasi-agreement between a human and the Government. And you also know that most of the time, the agreement is the one who is accused, judged innocent or guilty, and receives the sentence. You also know that it is only by sheer treachery of Government that the sentence is applied to the human being... by getting the human to think that he is the agreement without realizing that he has done so.

Now, of course, being an officer of the court (if you truly are an attorney, that is), you must by virtue of your office, deny all of the above, or at best remain silent.

Since we humans are outside the jurisdiction of the court until we make some agreement with the court, the settlement ABSOLUTELY IS ADMISSION THAT GOVERNMENT DID WRONG, no matter what side of the fence you are on!

If you don't get it, you better go back to law school.

Comment by brag
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Crappy comment: "Any settlement where the government pays is an admission that the government did wrong."  Settlement is NOT admission.  You must go to school and study law. And don't make a comment like this until you pass the BAR. Also just a friendly advice: Those who advocate shooting politicians, policemen and now judges or members of the bench might put this website in big trouble. This violent militia mentality guarantees "r3volutionaries" a place in jail as what happened in Alaska just recently, especially if it is coming from an anti-Government member of the editorial staff of this website.

Comment by Tyger
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It's unfortunate that it takes a shooting of the judge involved in the case to get some semblance of justice, but that appears to be the way the U.S. legal system often really works. Sometimes "crazy" gunmen accidentally get it right, or they aren't so crazy as they are made out to be. As more and more Americans get totally disgusted with their governments at every level, shootings of politicians, bureaucrats, and judges will probably become more frequent. It may be the only way true freedoms, fair laws, and honest courts are returned to this country.

Comment by J E Andreasen
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Terry, like many of us, you ran their gauntlet so a few more people would arouse from their trance and see the State for what it is.  That is a laudable outcome, in itself. 

The fact that bending to accede to settlement with these evil people churns your stomach answers any question as to your ethical fortitude.

The true battle is not yet joined.

Thank You.

Comment by Thane Eichenauer
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Any settlement where the government pays is an admission that the government did wrong. I am happy to hear about this. I hope Bressi keeps a foam core giant copy of the check handy and a recounting of the story on the back. I wonder if he will sell giant copies?

Comment by PureTrust
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It should have been $210 million. This piddly little amount will be thrown into the general bailout fund that the FED is doing for the whole Government.

They sit back and laugh. Chalk one up for Terry and freedom, chuckle chuckle. And Big Gov's beat goes on.

Comment by Checkpoint USA
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Thanks Powell. It was a long effort and it's good to have some closure on it after nearly ten years. The assistance and exposure that Freedoms Phoenix provided over the years regarding the case has been much appreciated as well.

 Believe it or not, it was a hard decision for me to make to go with settlement instead of pursuing it further. In the end though, I think the court route on this particular incident has run its course. I'm planning on writing more about the pressures and legal issues that pushed me towards settlement but I'm sure you can guess at most of them.

Comment by Powell Gammill
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Congratulations Terry!  It has been a long time coming.  Here is to many more successes.