Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Ritchie v. United States (9th Cir. - June 26, 2006)

You get some crazy complaints filed in federal court. And, usually, they're utterly frivolous. So, for example, when I hear that a guy filed a lawsuit that says that the CIA drugged his drink, which made him go out and rob a bank, my general reaction is: "Cuckoo Alert." And, usually, I'd be totally and completely right.

That said, read this opinion by Judge Kozinski. Especially the (much-too-easily-overlooked) final sentence in footnote 11. I can't believe that I'm saying this, but, after reading the entire opinion, my sense is that it's quite possible that the plaintiff was indeed drugged by the CIA at a Christmas office party in 1957. Which is pretty shocking.

Mind you, I also agree with Judge Kozinski's decision to affirm the dismissal of the complaint. Even if I was of the view (and I am) that it's very possible that the plaintiff was involuntarily drugged by the CIA, the district court made a factual finding that plaintiff hadn't proven his case, and that finding isn't clearly erroneous. I am not confident at all that the district court got it right, but given the state of the evidence, I think that's a very plausible (and reasonable) finding.

Still, I feel legitimately bad for the plaintiff. And utterly stunned at our government. Don't skim this one. It's a must-read.