In 2014 college student James King was walking down the street in Grand Rapids when two men stopped him, demanded to know his name, and took his wallet. Thinking he was being mugged, Mr. King ran. The men followed him, pinned him to the ground, beat him, and choked him until he was unconscious. The men were not actually muggers, but rather officers from a federal-state task force who had mistaken Mr. King for a fugitive.

King sued both the officers and the United States Government in federal court, and the case is now before the United States Supreme Court to decide whether a ruling that King cannot sue the federal government will also bar him from suing the officers individually. In August 2020 the ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that the so-called “judgment bar” of the Federal Torts Claims Act does not prevent individual federal law enforcement officers from being held accountable for misconduct.

(Brownback v. King; National ACLU Attorneys David Cole and Jennesa Calvo-Friedman; ACLU of Michigan Attorney Miriam Aukerman.)