Needless to say, the boys and their families sued. Raising a plethora of very much non-frivolous claims.
The district court nonetheless dismissed a large portion of the plaintiffs' claims. It took the Ninth Circuit over 18 months after the oral argument to write its opinion, notwithstanding the fact that it's unanimous. But it came out this morning. With Judge Thomas as the author.
This is a sufficiently high-profile opinion that I need not say much about it, and the whole thing's worth reading anyway. But let me give you one quote that suggests the tenor of the opinion, and a second quote that simply reveals the net result.
"One need only read the transcripts of the boys’ interrogations, or watch the videotapes, to understand how thoroughly the defendants’ conduct in this case 'shocks the conscience.' Michael and Aaron—14 and 15 years old, respectively—were isolated and subjected to hours and hours of
interrogation during which they were cajoled, threatened, lied to, and relentlessly pressured by teams of police officers. 'Psychological torture' is not an inapt description. In Cooper, we held that police violated an adult suspect’s substantive due process rights when they 'ignored Cooper’s repeated requests to speak with an attorney, deliberately infringed on his Constitutional right to remain silent, and relentlessly interrogated him in an attempt to extract a confession.' 963 F.2d at 1223. The interrogations of Michael and Aaron are no less shocking. Indeed, they are more so given that the boys’ interrogations were significantly longer than Coopers’s, the boys were minors, and Michael was in shock over his sister’s brutal murder. The interrogations violated Michael’s and Aaron’s Fourteenth Amendment rights to substantive due process."
Pretty darn clear how the panel feels, eh?
Quote Two. Here's the tally:
"We reverse the district court’s grant of summary judgment as to: (1) Michael and Aaron’s Fifth Amendment claims; (2) Michael and Aaron’s Fourteenth Amendment substantive due
process claims; (3) Michael’s Fourth Amendment claim that police lacked probable cause to arrest him; (4) Aaron’s Fourth Amendment claim that the warrant authorizing the search of his home was not supported by sufficient probable cause; (5) all otherwise surviving Fourth Amendment claims against McDonough; (6) all otherwise surviving claims against Blum; (7) the Crowes’ deprivation of familial companionship claim based on Michael’s arrest; and (8) all otherwise surviving claims against the Cities of Escondido and Oceanside. We affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment as to: (1) Aaron’s Fourth Amendment claim that police lacked probable cause to arrest him; (2) Michael’s claim that police violated his Fourth Amendment rights by strip searching him; (3) the Houser’s deprivation of familial companionship claim; (4) Michael and Aaron’s defamation claims against Stephan; (5) and Aaron’s defamation claim against Blum. Additionally, we affirm the district court’s denial of summary judgment as to: (1) Cheryl, Stephen, and Shannon Crowes’ claims that police violated his Fourth Amendment rights by strip searching them; (2) Cheryl and Stephen’s Fourth Amendment claims that the warrant authorizing police to draw blood samples were not supported by probable cause; (3) Cheryl and Stephen’s Fourth Amendment claims of wrongful detention; and (4) the Crowe’s deprivation of familial companionship claims based on the placement of Michael and Shannon in protective custody. We remand to the district court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."