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View Full Version : Has A Sheriff Ever Been Sued for Issuing CCW ?


Ca Patriot
03-27-2010, 10:00 PM
Does anyone know of a case where a sheriff was sued becuase they issued a CCW and the person used the gun in someway to harm someone else ?

Aleksandr Mravinsky
03-27-2010, 10:15 PM
They are immune from being sued based on what they do while performing their duties as sheriff. This means they cannot be sued for issuing (or not issuing) a CCW. However, I don't know how long this has been in place. It is possible someone tried to before.

crackerman
03-27-2010, 10:44 PM
They are immune from being sued based on what they do while performing their duties as sheriff. This means they cannot be sued for issuing (or not issuing) a CCW. However, I don't know how long this has been in place. It is possible someone tried to before.

I belive that is in the State Constitition IIRC?!? Not FUD if I am wrong, just remember reading it.

Librarian is probably so much more correct below

Librarian
03-27-2010, 11:17 PM
I believe it's Government Code 818.4. A public entity is not liable for an injury caused by the
issuance, denial, suspension or revocation of, or by the failure or
refusal to issue, deny, suspend or revoke, any permit, license,
certificate, approval, order, or similar authorization where the
public entity or an employee of the public entity is authorized by
enactment to determine whether or not such authorization should be
issued, denied, suspended or revoked.

BobB35
03-28-2010, 6:34 AM
Here is a doc I found on the web awhile ago. The creator is on it so you can look them up. It outlines the law surrounding personal protection and legal responsibility.

RomanDad
03-28-2010, 7:29 AM
They're immune.... And they know it. However its one of the main excuses they use publicly for not issuing.

BluNorthern
03-28-2010, 7:46 AM
And how many times do we hear the reasoning that 'only the police need guns since they are there to protect you' when trying to slam the door on our rights to carry. Well, here they admit that the police Can't protect us, in fact pass laws granting them immunity from not being able to, and to issuing agents of CCW's who deny a legal application and if said applicant is unable to defend himself or others because of this, well, too bad. Once again, no accountability by our government regarding outcomes of their policy's.

CSDGuy
03-28-2010, 8:28 AM
They're immune.... And they know it. However its one of the main excuses they use publicly for not issuing.
However, they're NOT immune from the voters... They're probably more worried about Political Liability (not getting re-elected) than anything else.

bodger
03-28-2010, 8:34 AM
Problem is, in the major urban areas of CA, the sheriffs who won't issue CCWs (except to the wealthy and celebs) don't have anything to fear from the voters.

Hozr
03-28-2010, 8:37 AM
They are immune from being sued based on what they do while performing their duties as sheriff.

This is a common mis-statement. They are immune if they use due regard in performing their assigned duties. No one, NO ONE, is completely immune from the law.

CCWFacts
03-28-2010, 11:31 AM
They're immune.... And they know it. However its one of the main excuses they use publicly for not issuing.

Yes, liability is their #1 excuse. I've heard it myself. "Oh, the chief doesn't issue because of liability."

When they make that claim, they have full knowledge that the statement is untrue. It is a lie, told knowingly and intentionally. It should be regarded as such. Any police officer or (especially) police management person who says it is lying.

Take a look at California government code 820-823 (http://law.justia.com/california/codes/gov/820-823.html):

A public employee is not liable for an injury caused by his issuance, denial, suspension or revocation of, or by his failure or refusal to issue, deny, suspend or revoke, any permit, license, certificate, approval, order, or similar authorization where he is authorized by enactment to determine whether or not such authorization should be issued, denied, suspended or revoked.

It doesn't get any more clear than that. And they all know it. The whole of 820-823 goes on and on about how they are immune from practically everything which is within their official duties.

They are 100%, fully, completely aware of all this. I've never been through POST but I assume this is covered thoroughly within POST, because without this immunity, they would be sued every time they made an arrest and someone got injured, or even if the city issued a dog permit and the dog bit someone, or the DMV issued a drivers license and the guy got into an accident. The state and local gov'ts couldn't function without immunity, and 820-823 gives them almost absolute immunity.

The times when it doesn't apply are when there they are acting outside their duties, or there is a civil rights violation, or they are taking a bribe, or some other outrageous misconduct like that.

This is a common mis-statement. They are immune if they use due regard in performing their assigned duties. No one, NO ONE, is completely immune from the law.

That's not completely right, or at least it's unclear.

Even if they do not exercise due regard for their duties, they are immune. For example:

A public employee is not liable for injury caused by his instituting or prosecuting any judicial or administrative proceeding within the scope of his employment, even if he acts maliciously and without probable cause.

So even if he is acting maliciously (without due regard), he's still immune!

The only very narrow places where their immunity can be breached are a few things like violating civil rights and taking bribes. Also, if what they are doing is in fact outside the scope of their duties, they can be liable.

For example, in Santa Maria, Police Chief Macagni issued a CCW to someone who wasn't a resident of Santa Maria. That's not allowed by the PC and it obviously illegal and outside the scope of Chief Macagni's duties. If they guy (Dr. Richard Ontell) had shot someone, I would imagine that Chief Macagni might have liability for it, because his action was outside the scope of any official duty. Beyond that, it seems that the chief accepted a bribe for the CCW. So that's one of the few cases where a police chief loses his immunity and puts himself and the city at tremendous legal risk. Note the wording of 821.2: he gets immunity if the issuance of the permit is "authorized by enactment". Issuing outside of his city is obviously not authorized in PC 12050, so his statutory immunity disappears, and a big fat ugly storm cloud of immunity arrives for the city and for himself.

And yet, you can be sure that Chief Macagni (http://archive.santamariasun.com/index.php?p=showarticle&id=2121) trots out the same lie: "we don't issue because of liability", even when he knows it's not true, and he is knowingly exposing his city to terrible liability risks through his own illegal conduct.

MindBuilder
03-28-2010, 5:10 PM
Immunity may win a lawsuit, but it doesn't stop suits from being filed. If the judge is anti-ccw she may let the suit go to a jury. A jury may give a large award to a grieving mother because the county has plenty of money. Even if the county wins, the legal costs may be high. If the plaintiffs file a federal suit, the state immunity law may provide little protection. An expensive settlement may make sense even if the county has immunity.

This threat is probably overblown. I hate that sheriffs cave to it, and I don't think they should, but it may be a real problem.

CCWFacts
03-28-2010, 5:27 PM
Immunity may win a lawsuit, but it doesn't stop suits from being filed. If the judge is anti-ccw she may let the suit go to a jury. A jury may give a large award to a grieving mother because the county has plenty of money. Even if the county wins, the legal costs may be high. If the plaintiffs file a federal suit, the state immunity law may provide little protection. An expensive settlement may make sense even if the county has immunity.

No, that's wrong. The lawyers here can give better explanation, but basically the city would file a motion to dismiss based on 821.2. it is a very simple and cheap motion for them to file because they don't need to even argue the merits of the case. They just say, "we're immune because of 821.2 so dismiss it." And that's exactly what will happen. People file nuisance suits against gov't entities all the time and so they have a very quick and easy way of dismissing them.

This threat is probably overblown. I hate that sheriffs cave to it, and I don't think they should, but it may be a real problem.

That threat isn't overblown, it simply doesn't exist.

Think about it. The DMV issues probably thousands of DLs every single day, and every single day, there is an accident involving a licensed driver. How often does the DMV get sued for having issued the license?

At the city level, most urban cities have dog license requirements. There are millions of dog licenses in California. Every single day, licensed dogs bite and injure someone. Have you ever heard of a suit against a city because they issued the dog license? It doesn't happen. Every construction site in this state requires some kind of construction permit from the city or county. Every single day, there are construction accidents and injuries in this state. Ever heard of a lawsuit against the city or county for issuing a construction permit?

It doesn't matter how the judge feels about CCW, the issuing authority has immunity.

Also, look at the 30+ states that have shall-issue systems. There have been murders committed by CCW holders. It's quite rare but it happens. If there were any way to have a successful lawsuit over CCW issuance, wouldn't it have happened in a case where a CCW holder murders someone? I've looked, and I've asked, and I fail to find any examples of such cases.

Immunity is just that.

command_liner
03-28-2010, 5:34 PM
They're immune.... And they know it. However its one of the main excuses they use publicly for not issuing.

Wrong. Do a bit of reading ... in this forum.
The section 1983 lawsuits have been filed, and are on hold until we get a
ruling in McDonald/Nordyke.

Recall that Heller clarified that RKBA is a civil right. That means that the
whole machinery of the civil rights litigation industry can be used against
the sheriffs that refuse to issue and against the local cities that use the
counties to do CCW work.

The litigation is working its way through the courts. If the actions of the
sheriffs was not covered by law, the litigation would have been tossed out
already.

CCWFacts
03-28-2010, 5:48 PM
Wrong. Do a bit of reading ... in this forum.
The section 1983 lawsuits have been filed, and are on hold until we get a
ruling in McDonald/Nordyke.

RomansDad is very very well aware of those 1983 suits being filed.

You're wrong. You haven't read my post explaining immunity. I clearly state, there are a few very narrow holes in their immunity, and one of those holes is civil rights violations.

They have sweeping immunity so long as it isn't a civil rights issue. For example, a city ordnance saying, "we don't issue CCWs to blacks", or "we don't issue construction permits to Chinese", or anything like that, would not be dismissed because it's obviously a civil rights issue.

But back to the original topic: Let's say that the city of Santa Maria issue a CCW to Joe Bob and then Joe Bob shoots someone unlawfully. How is there a civil rights issue? There isn't, so the city would have immunity. The only way I could imagine is if the city somehow knew that Joe Bob was going to use his CCW permit for the purpose of violating civil rights. Like if the city knew (and it could be documented that they knew) that Joe Bob is a KKK member and desires to get a CCW so he could violate civil rights. Maybe then the case wouldn't be dismissed? But that's a pretty outlandish situation in today's world.

MindBuilder
03-28-2010, 6:18 PM
Judges hostile to CCW may not dismiss, even if the law is clear. The Second Amendment is the law and many judges have blatantly ignored it. Judges aren't hostile to drivers licenses or building permits so they probably rarely fail to dismiss such suits. Furthermore, when a lawyer files such a suit, he will probably try to work something in, even if it's ridiculous, to bring the case within one of the exceptions to immunity. Even a ridiculous excuse may be plenty for a judge hostile to CCW. If the judge doesn't quickly dismiss, then the legal bills will be significant.

My ideas above are just theoretical though. If counties aren't suffering significant losses from such suits, then it's not a problem, and they're bogus excuses.

As far as the suits waiting for McDonald, that's not what we were talking about. Those cases are about counties denying permits, rather than issuing permits that were misused. If the courts recognize a constitutionally protected right, counties cannot continue blatantly violating the right by hiding behind immunity. They may be able to continue violating the right by various underhanded methods, and immunity may make it easier to get away with, but that's not the purpose of immunity.

CCWFacts
03-28-2010, 6:49 PM
Judges hostile to CCW may not dismiss, even if the law is clear.....

My ideas above are just theoretical though. If counties aren't suffering significant losses from such suits, then it's not a problem, and they're bogus excuses.

There are millions of CCW holders in the US. There are roughly 40,000 in California. Some of those CCWers commit crimes. Surely with the millions in the US and the ~40,000 in California, if such suits were possible, someone would be able to find an example of one which wasn't dismissed?

If anyone can find evidence of such a thing please let me know.

Conversely, there have been successful lawsuits over CCW denials which have netted significant $$$ for the plaintiffs. Not many such suits, but a few, enough that they can't be dismissed as fiction.

It's obvious that there is real liability for denying a CCW, and there is no evidence (that I've ever heard of) of liability from properly issuing. And yet, chiefs continue to make the claim, "we don't issue because of liability". Sorry, it's a knowing lie when they say it. I'll take that back when someone shows me an example of a real suit were a properly-issued CCW resulted in liability for the issuing authority.

Aleksandr Mravinsky
03-28-2010, 9:07 PM
Sorry, it's a knowing lie when they say it.
I don't think anyone expected the the truth from a politician.

I wish that there was some way of reprimanding public officials who lie, and maybe, to a lesser extent, police as well. They can lie to us, but we can't lie to them.

CCWFacts
03-28-2010, 10:35 PM
I wish that there was some way of reprimanding public officials who lie, and maybe, to a lesser extent, police as well. They can lie to us, but we can't lie to them.

To me, I feel that when there is a significant lie like that, especially from someone who is in such a trusted position, someone who is supposed to be protecting us, someone who is granted many many privileges... it destroys any possibility of respect. It means the person is nothing more than yet another guy out there working purely for his own self-interest, and unfortunately has been granted a huge position of trust which is not justified.

If they would just honestly say, "The chief doesn't issue because it is the consensus of the city leadership that they don't want CCWs to be issued", fine, that's honest. I would disagree but I would respect the person saying, because it's clear and honest. If they said, "the chief doesn't issue because he needs to use them to reward friends and donors", I would even respect that, because it's honest! But, "the chief doesn't issue because of liability" is actually a double-lie: First, it's a like because it implies, "the chief would like to issue if he could", which is not true, and they know it. And second, it's a lie because, factually, they have immunity for any proper issuance and they know it.

Gray Peterson
03-28-2010, 11:12 PM
To me, I feel that when there is a significant lie like that, especially from someone who is in such a trusted position, someone who is supposed to be protecting us, someone who is granted many many privileges... it destroys any possibility of respect. It means the person is nothing more than yet another guy out there working purely for his own self-interest, and unfortunately has been granted a huge position of trust which is not justified.

If they would just honestly say, "The chief doesn't issue because it is the consensus of the city leadership that they don't want CCWs to be issued", fine, that's honest. I would disagree but I would respect the person saying, because it's clear and honest. If they said, "the chief doesn't issue because he needs to use them to reward friends and donors", I would even respect that, because it's honest! But, "the chief doesn't issue because of liability" is actually a double-lie: First, it's a like because it implies, "the chief would like to issue if he could", which is not true, and they know it. And second, it's a lie because, factually, they have immunity for any proper issuance and they know it.

Agreed on all counts, and it gets even worse than that. TECHNICALLY, they could just get completely out of the issuance business and throw it all to the county sheriff by declaring "G" and signing a memorandum with the sheriff.

natedogg1777
03-29-2010, 9:21 AM
Two of my friends with CCW permits went to a small meeting with the Sheriff of their county about six months ago (pro CCW Sheriff) and he said at any given time he has a dozen lawsuits against him in his official capacity and him personally. It costs a small fortune in attorney's fees from what I gathered.

yellowfin
03-29-2010, 9:44 AM
The immunity from lawsuit over non-issuance is totally unconscionable. Whoever came up with that completely lacks a human soul.

CCWFacts
03-29-2010, 9:46 AM
Two of my friends with CCW permits went to a small meeting with the Sheriff of their county about six months ago (pro CCW Sheriff) and he said at any given time he has a dozen lawsuits against him in his official capacity and him personally. It costs a small fortune in attorney's fees from what I gathered.

Yes, as I said, gov't entities get nuisance suits against them all the time, and it does cost them money to deal with them. But things like CCW issuance aren't part of the things they are sued over. I don't know what the bulk of municipal suits are over, but I expect it's things like challenging an administrative decision.

Barkoff
04-17-2010, 8:12 PM
Thanks, I'll have those in my pocket when I go see the sheriff after the June election.