Raid Settlement Gets Initial OK

  Raid Settlement Gets Initial OK

Posted by CN Staff on April 05, 2006 at 15:09:51 PT
By Tony Bartelme 
Source: Post and Courier 

Goose Creek, SC -- The morning of Nov. 5, 2003, Maurice Harris was a skinny ninth-grader at Stratford High School, standing in a stairwell, getting ready for classes. Suddenly, he heard a loud boom and saw police pour into a hallway, shouting and waving guns. One officer pointed a gun at his face, and the image of that gun barrel stayed with him long afterward, filling him with anger.Now 17 and a junior at Stratford, Harris found himself inside a federal courtroom Wednesday, listening to a judge give preliminary approval to settlement of a class-action lawsuit.
Under the plan, Harris and as many as 140 other students in the hall that morning will get at least $6,000 to $11,000, and possibly more. The final amount depends on how many of the 140 students sign on."I feel great about the outcome," Harris said afterward, standing next to his father. He said his anger has vanished, and that he plans to go to college someday. Dr. Chester Floyd, superintendent of the Berkeley County School District, also said he was pleased with the settlement deal. "It's time for this to go to bed and put it behind us."Tuesday's hearing isn't the last chapter in the legal drama stemming from the notorious Stratford drug sweep, but it may be close. U.S. District Judge Patrick Michael Duffy still must give final approval for the deal, which could happen as early as July. On Tuesday, he described the $1.6 million settlement agreement "to be in order and appropriate."Goose Greek police and Stratford school officials decided to raid a hallway after learning that students might be selling drugs in a particular corner. But the sweep turned up no drugs or weapons. No arrests were made.Soon after, angry parents began contacting area lawyers. Motley Rice LLC, known for its fights against the tobacco industry and on behalf of 9/11 victims, took on Harris and more than a dozen other clients. The American Civil Liberties Union also entered the fray, and soon Berkeley County school officials and Goose Creek police were being sued on several fronts over allegations they violated the students' constitutional rights.As images of the raid were broadcast and printed across the world, district officials and Goose Creek changed their policies for drug searches. George McCrackin, the high school's longtime principal, resigned and took an administrative position with the district. Meanwhile, some parents held rallies supporting McCrackin's get-tough approach to school discipline. In all, 53 students and their families would file three lawsuits. These claims eventually were combined into a single class-action lawsuit. Gregg Meyers, a lawyer for one group of students, said legal investigators studied photographic and other evidence and determined that roughly 140 students were present that morning in the hallway.Under the settlement plan, those students will be eligible to receive a share of $1,175,000 with another $25,000 set aside for those who sought medical treatment. Under a complicated formula, students who have already filed lawsuits or received medical or psychological treatment will get more money - at least about $11,000, lawyers for the students estimated. Other students in the hallway would get about $6,000, though both numbers could go up if fewer than 140 students join the suit. Next week, Berkeley County officials plan to mail 11-page packets explaining the settlement's details to about 2,700 students enrolled at Stratford the morning of the raid. Lawyers for both sides cautioned that only those who were in the hallway would be eligible to join the lawsuit. "And making a false claim is a federal crime," Meyers said, adding that investigators have a list of about 140 students, and that "any student who's not on the list will get extra scrutiny."Under the agreement, the students' lawyers will get $400,000. During a press conference after Tuesday's hearing, Fritz Jekel, a lawyer for Motley Rice, said his firm planned to donate any fees they receive to children's charities. "We invested more than 300 lawyer manhours, so that's a significant amount of money," he said. Richard Wern, another lawyer for the students, said he also planned to donate his fees to charity. Most of the $1.6 million settlement will be paid by insurance companies, though Goose Creek will pay $60,000 out of its own funds and Berkeley County School District will shell out $50,000.After the hearing, lawyers for both sides said they were pleased with the deal. "It's a great day in America for students all over the country," said Marlon Kimpson, another lawyer for Motley Rice working on the case. He said the agreement shows that "students don't leave their rights at the school door."Note: Up to 140 students at drug sweep could get $6,000 to $11,000 each.Source: Post and Courier, The (Charleston, SC)Author: Tony Bartelme Of The Post and Courier Staff Published: Wednesday, April 05, 2006Copyright: 2006 Evening Post Publishing Co.Website: letters postandcourier.comRelated Articles & Web Site:ACLU Raid Raises Questions About Drug War Raid Criticized, Praised Say No To Gun-Wielding Cops in School 

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Comment #25 posted by global_warming on April 08, 2006 at 11:45:20 PT
“Police must now respect the fundamental freedoms of Goose Creek students,” said Alyse Bertenthal, an attorney with the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project. “The settlement properly raises the bar for student rights, and should serve as a model for every school in the country.”Now if we can raise the bar a little further, to protect the homeowner and tax payer from this invasive filth and sickness that has spread throughout this land.
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Comment #24 posted by FoM on April 08, 2006 at 08:51:51 PT
ACLU Press Release
Landmark Settlement Reached in Notorious School Drug Raid Caught on Tape ***Victims of South Carolina Raid Become Only Students in America with Complete Freedom From Unconstitutional Search and Seizure April 7, 2006GOOSE CREEK, SC -- The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded a landmark settlement reached this week in its lawsuit challenging police tactics in the high-profile drug raid of Stratford High School in Goose Creek, South Carolina. The settlement sets a new standard for students’ constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.Absent a warrant, police will now need either to have probable cause and pressing circumstances or voluntary consent in order to conduct law enforcement activity on school grounds – effectively granting Goose Creek students the essential privacy rights enjoyed by all Americans.“Police must now respect the fundamental freedoms of Goose Creek students,” said Alyse Bertenthal, an attorney with the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project. “The settlement properly raises the bar for student rights, and should serve as a model for every school in the country.”The November 5, 2003 police raid of Stratford High School was recorded by both the school’s surveillance cameras and a police camera. The tapes show students as young as 14 forced to the ground in handcuffs as officers in SWAT team uniforms and bulletproof vests aim guns at their heads and lead a drug dog to tear through their book bags. The ACLU represents 20 of the nearly 150 students caught up in the raid. The raid was initiated by the school’s principal at the time, George McCrackin, who resigned shortly after the tapes surfaced on national television. The raid was authorized based on the principal’s suspicion that a single student was dealing marijuana. The raid was carried out despite the suspected student being absent at the time. No drugs or weapons were found during the raid and no charges were filed.While African Americans represented less than a quarter of the high school’s students, more than two-thirds of those caught up in the sweep were African American. The raid took place in the early morning hours when the school’s hallways are predominantly populated with African American students whose buses arrive before those of their white classmates, which largely travel from different neighborhoods. White students began to arrive during the raid and witnessed the hostile roundup and detention of their African American peers.As 16-year-old Joshua Ody, one of the students caught up in the raid, put it, “I felt like I had less rights than other people that day.”Following the raid, the ACLU brought a lawsuit on behalf of students’ families charging police and school officials with violating the students’ right to be free from unlawful search and seizure and use of excessive force. The lawsuit demanded a court order declaring the raid unconstitutional and blocking the future use of such tactics, as well as damages on behalf of the students.In addition to recognizing students’ rights to be free from unconstitutional search and seizure and restricting police tactics, the settlement establishes a $1.6 million dollar fund to compensate the students and help cover medical and counseling costs from the incident.The cost of the settlement will be paid by the city of Goose Creek, the Goose Creek Police Department, and the Berkeley County School District where the school is located, with assistance from their respective insurance companies. It is not yet known exactly how many of the nearly 150 students will accept the settlement. The offer came in response to a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 53 students, of which the ACLU’s lawsuit is a part. While both sides have agreed to the terms of the settlement, it will be technically final in July 2006, when it is expected to receive judicial approval.The ACLU’s clients are: 15-year-old Carl Alexander, Jr.; 15-year-old Rodney Goodwin; 17-year-old Samuel Ody III; 17-year-old Micah Bryant; 15-year-old Marcus Blakeney; 14-year-old Danyielle Ashley Cills; 15-year-old Cedric Penn, Jr.; 14-year-old Elijah Le'Quan Simpson; 14-year-old Jeremy Bolger; 14-year-old Tristan Cills; 14-year-old Arielle Pena; 17-year-old Jalania McCullough; 17-year-old Cedric Simmons; 14-year-old Nathaniel Smalls; 15-year-old Timothy Rice; 15-year-old Shnikqua Simmons; 16-year-old Joshua Ody; 16-year-old De'Nea Dykes; 15-year-old Chernitua Bryant; and 18-year-old Rodricus Perry.A school surveillance video of the raid with narration by Principal McCrackin may be viewed at: essential terms of the settlement may be viewed at: of the students as well as the initial complaint filed by the ACLU may be viewed at: Copyright: 2006 ACLUContact: media URL:
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Comment #23 posted by global_warming on April 06, 2006 at 15:37:57 PT
re:17 'premiums will go up
you can bet on that, "show me the 'money",so says the Antichrist,if you don't have the moneyyou cannot get on the train,old Curtiss caught a glimpsewhen he said people get readythere is 'no hiding placeit is in your eyeyour smile'we those peoplemust have faiththat the light that reflects off the flesh of that golden calfonce glimpsedintoxicatesand drives one mad, insane,the greatest addiction is power that money can 'buyit is a pityon some fools errandthat the prohibitionists slavishly bow and honortheir eternal goalsfor they have not yet seenthe shackles that gird their own feetthose taxes that pay for this realitycan never have enough tax,can never have enough power,they blindly march towards their destinynever knowing, that it is their own blood and tearsthat are drawn from their flesh and soulMay God have MercyUpon their souls,when they first seethe place where they liveand this world that they shape and fight for, to the most bitter end,
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Comment #22 posted by FoM on April 06, 2006 at 10:01:32 PT
Stay safe. 
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Comment #21 posted by Hope on April 06, 2006 at 10:00:08 PT
Stormy day here.
Better batten down the hatches.
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Comment #20 posted by FoM on April 06, 2006 at 07:54:33 PT
Thank you for that terrible link. 
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Comment #19 posted by FoM on April 06, 2006 at 07:53:32 PT
Sam Adams 
I want to comment on the abortion issue. I am totally against abortion. I believe in life. I also believe that no man or government should come between a woman, her doctor and her God. Until we walk in a woman's shoes we have no right to say what she can or can't do. That is freedom to map our own course in life. There I feel better.
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Comment #18 posted by Sam Adams on April 06, 2006 at 07:44:52 PT
potpal - prisons
Thanks for forwarding that link.  I had 2 thoughts on it - first, we've really put some distance between us and the next closest prison state! It used to be neck and neck with Russian and South Africa, but we've pulled away by a wide margin now.The other thing that caught my eye was women. We have a higher percent of women prisoners than any other country in the world. I'll guess from those stats that we probably have as many women in prison as the rest of the world combined.Now you see why the politicians focus on the abortion issue, an issue on which most people basically agree. I think 99% of us think abortion is bad and should be minimized. Instead of moving forward on this point of agreement, the political class turns the issue around to divide us. All it takes is a couple backward states (South Dakota) trying to ban it to stir up a media storm.So women and women's groups are all focussed on abortion, meanwhile, our answer for poor, abused women that turn to drugs is to lock them in jail.Look at foreign policy...same thing. Instead of taking the shortest path to solving the terrorism problem - going into Afganistan and Pakistan with a large number of ground troops and capturing Bin Laden and the Taliban, while investing money in re-building Afganistan - we start up a war in another country, a war that can be continued indefinitely.Now that's on the front page every day, and other stories of corporate corrruption and abuses of power by the political class are buried in the back section of the paper.
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Comment #17 posted by dongenero on April 06, 2006 at 07:17:44 PT
global warming #5 and #6
That is mine line of thinking on Goose Creek.These buffoons in the police dept. and school admin. don't care. The settlement is paid by insurance. The premiums will go up? So what, it's all covered by our tax dollars!Pretty painless for these bureaucrats really. Sacrifice the school principal's job and everyone else goes on their merry way. Painless indeed.How about some individual civil suits that will really hit home?
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on April 06, 2006 at 07:17:39 PT
Medical Pot Advocate Is Released From Jail 
From Times Staff and Wire Reports April 6, 2006 Placer County Jail released medical marijuana advocate Steve Kubby on Wednesday after he spent three weeks behind bars for fleeing to Canada five years ago to avoid serving time on a drug conviction.   
Kubby returned to the United States this year and spent 40 days in jail for the original conviction on possession of a psychedelic mushroom and peyote button. After a few days of freedom, he returned to the jail to serve 60 days for failing to appear in 2001 to serve his original sentence. His stay ended early because of overcrowding.Copyright: 2006, The Los Angeles Times
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Comment #15 posted by potpal on April 06, 2006 at 04:11:29 PT
land of the free Thank Prohibition.
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Comment #14 posted by afterburner on April 05, 2006 at 20:56:55 PT
charmed quark 
"How is ghe new Prime Minister getting support for thes policies?"Easy, charmed quark, from the police and US special interest groups. Harper gave a speech to the cops outlining his hard-line law enforcement goals *before* he gave the Throne Speech to Parliament! 4 April 2006
Speech from the Throne: Turning a New Leaf April 2006
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's address to the Canadian Professional Police Association
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Comment #13 posted by Truth on April 05, 2006 at 20:49:33 PT
The Truth Shall Prevail.
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Comment #12 posted by Toker00 on April 05, 2006 at 19:12:08 PT
Thank you Linda. Good to know our arrows have hit their mark. I hope Jerry is well. God bless both of you, and be sure to give them dogs an extra treat tonight, from us.Toke.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on April 05, 2006 at 18:11:41 PT

Thanks for stopping in. I know you are busy and that will make time pass a little faster. I finally got a letter off to Jerry yesterday. 
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Comment #10 posted by global_warming on April 05, 2006 at 17:50:49 PT

Like a Donkey
I can "spit" in the face Of my prosecutorand may all "donkeys"have a spit and a hollowto place that phlegm of disgracein the 'faceof those that stand before a court of man made lawsthat have been usurpedby ignorance and greedJustice and LawSpring EternallyFrom the Fountain That moves the starsThe Light that burns brightlyTo ever remind
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Comment #9 posted by runruffswife on April 05, 2006 at 17:47:33 PT:

runruff - word from the Inside
Hi Everyone,
RunRuff wrote to me and said he has been receiving many letters from our friends here at C-News, he and I thank you. He also said he has received contributions to his commissary account. Thank you again, from both of us, very much. Those acts of kindness are making a really big difference in so many ways. We are grateful.
If anyone would like to reach me please email me as I am not regularly posting or reading C-News right now. 
Blessings to You All. The Truth Shall Prevail.
Love Love Love,
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Comment #8 posted by global_warming on April 05, 2006 at 17:25:11 PT

prepare to be gutted,and your evisceration,is like any other,can you ride the spike,that big money brings?
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Comment #7 posted by charmed quark on April 05, 2006 at 17:08:16 PT

WP: Harper Sets Goals to Curb Liberal Course
I guess he envies the USA's low crime rate and the finacial security of the middle class. Obviously our criminal policies have almost eliminated crime and drugs here. And nobody here needs to worry about medical care or how they will retire.Good for you, Canada.Seriously - how can the Canadians see anything in the USA as an improvement for what they have? How is ghe new Prime Minister getting support for thes policies?
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Comment #6 posted by global_warming on April 05, 2006 at 17:07:57 PT

Meant the 16th Amendment
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Comment #5 posted by global_warming on April 05, 2006 at 16:54:15 PT

Not Enough and Too Long to Wait
To the Good People of Goose Creek, the payment was not enough, and the court of blind justice lifted her flap for a quick glance at the "money".As long as there is a "revenuer" and that forgotten 11th amendment that allowed the 'government to "tax" your income, that infamous day, when 'all Americans became slaves, these pork barreled hippocrits, will continue to grow, and wallow in the filth of disgrace to God and Country.
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on April 05, 2006 at 16:04:14 PT:

It's not punishing enough
Not by far. The fact is, the lesson has NOT been learned. Because if it had, you would have heard profuse apologizing from the police. Instead, you've heard...silence. The sullen silence of those who committed a grave wrong, and who are in denial of having done so. The police who committed this outrage should have been paraded in front of those they endangered with their reckless gunplay and publicly stated that were in the wrong and sorry. They haven't...and they won't. They will still insist that what they did was right, and first chance they get, they'll do it again. If there is a bright side that came out of this, it's that a few activists were born in that hallway that day, people who've learned first-hand what the War on Drugs really entails. They know that it is primarily aimed, literally with weapon muzzles, pointed at the heads of people of color. Some of them may shrink back and try to live quietly after this. But others...the anger will stay white-hot for a long tme.The police have made two errors. The first was the raid. Thesecond was making activists out of some of those kids. The latter mistake will cost them plenty when those kids become politically active...and seek to make the police pay twice by seeing their funds get cut. Thank you, Goose Creek goobers; our ranks have been added to. 
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Comment #3 posted by OverwhelmSam on April 05, 2006 at 15:57:25 PT

What's Good for the Goose...
Great! Precedent is set, let's start going after state agencies that treat people the same way as these thugs did to these students under color of law.
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on April 05, 2006 at 15:35:11 PT

what a shame
Most of the $1.6 million settlement will be paid by insurance companies, though Goose Creek will pay $60,000 out of its own funds and Berkeley County School District will shell out $50,000.That money right there could've paid for 1 full-time health teacher and 1 full-time sports & phys-ed teacher.Oh wait though, we have to give the police all our money, I forgot, this is America.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on April 05, 2006 at 15:21:30 PT

WP: Harper Sets Goals to Curb Liberal Course
Canada's New Leader Already Under CriticismBy Doug Struck, Washington Post Foreign ServiceWednesday, April 5, 2006; Page A20TORONTO, April 4 -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Tuesday moved to end more of the liberal hallmarks that make Canada distinctive from the United States and to reverse the policies of 12 years of Liberal Party-led government.Harper's Conservative government outlined its legislative goals in a formal speech to Parliament, pledging to cut taxes, replace the federally backed day-care system with subsidies, curb what Harper calls lenient treatment of criminals and loosen the government's monopoly on health care. 
On Monday, Harper announced that his government would back away from marijuana decriminalization, which was a regular platform of the Liberal government. He has frozen funding for some grass-roots environmental programs and pledged to scrap the country's gun registration program, another favorite Liberal program.Complete Article:
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