Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Watts v. McKinney (9th Cir. - January 10, 2005)

There's zealous advocacy, and then there's claiming -- as the lawyer for McKinney did here -- that your client is entitled to qualified immunity because a reasonable person wouldn't necessarily know that it's illegal to deliberately stomp on a prisoner's testicles while he's handcuffed. "Oh, you mean I can't do that?" Uh, yeah, you can't.

Judge Noonan's response is entirely correct: "To suppose that a reasonable person, let alone a trained prison officer, would not know that kicking a helpless prisoner's genitals was cruel and unusual conduct is beyond belief. The Supreme Court did not need to create a catalogue of all the acts by which cruel and sadistic purpose to harm another would be manifest; but if it had, such [an] act would be near the top of the list."

The lawyer for McKinney was Gregory Walston, a fairly recent graduate of U.C. Davis law school (like Stanford, they train 'em well!). Walson was a Deputy A.G. at the time, and recently joined an eight-attorney firm in San Franciso. Though, from the address he has listed with the State Bar, it looks like he lasted there less than nine months. Cheer up, Greg. Any publicity is good publicity, right?