Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jose Ventura, the Bane of Chino

Courthouse News Service reports an item of local interest.

Back in December 2007, Jose Ventura was pulled over for a traffic violation by Chino police officers. The police noticed that there was a 1994 arrest warrant for Jose Ventura. But there was an issue:

The warrant described "Jose Ventura" as a Hispanic male who was 6'1" tall, weighed 200 pounds, and had black hair and brown eyes. Ventura's driver's license had him as 5'6" tall and 180 pounds.

Now there are three possibilities here. One possibility is that there are two Jose Venturas. The second possibility is that the arrest warrant had incorrect information. The third possibility is that the driver's license had incorrect information.

According to Ventura (the driver), the police "coached" him to respond that the driver's license was incorrect, and that he was really 5'11".

No one disputes that Ventura spent six days in various jails in San Bernardino and Los Angeles Counties, and was released after his fingerprints did not match the fingerprints on the arrest warrant.

(DISCLOSURE: I work for a company that provides automated fingerprint identification systems. In 2007, my employer did not provide systems in either of these two counties.)

This has become a civil case that has been winding through the courts. According to Courthouse News Service, a Federal appellate panel has determined that Ventura can press his claims against the city of Chino, under the Bane Act.

The Bane Civil Rights Act, Civil Code section 52.1 and Penal Code section 422.6 et seq., prohibits violence or the threat of violence based on grounds such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, age disability or position in a labor dispute.

Civil Code section 52.1 protects all people within this state from interference with their free exercise or enjoyment of the rights guaranteed them by the state or the United States. If the interference is by means of speech alone, however, no remedy will be available to you under the Bane Act unless it can be shown that the speech itself threatened violence against you; that you reasonably feared violence would be committed against you or your property because of the speech; and that the person threatening violence had the apparent ability to carry out the threat.

If anyone interferes with your rights under this law by threats, intimidation, or coercion, you may be able to get a court order banning this behavior and be awarded for money lost and emotional distress, as well as a $25,000 civil penalty and attorney's fees.

On, and there's one other thing. Remember how Ventura's driver's license said he was 5'6" and 180 pounds? Well, when he was released six days after his arrest, he was described in a document:

[A]t the time of his release, Ventura's release form stated he was 5'7" and weighed 320 pounds.

They must have some good food at the West Valley Detention Center and the Los Angeles County Jail.

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