The Supreme Court on Monday said D.C. police officers acted reasonably in arresting 21 people at a late-night house party a decade ago in a case that featured women in garter belts stuffed with cash and a mystery hostess named Peaches, reports the Washington Post .
The court ruled unanimously that the officers could not be held liable for making the arrests after they came upon a scene of “utter Bacchanalia,” as Justice Clarence Thomas described it in announcing the decision, at a house party where the homeowner was not present and it was unclear if the guests had been invited.
“Based on the vagueness and implausibility of the partygoers’ stories, the officers could have reasonably inferred that they were lying and that their lies suggested a guilty mind,” Thomas wrote in his decision for the court. At any rate, the officers had qualified immunity for their actions, the court said.
The case arose in March 2008 after D.C. police officers were called to investigate noise complaints at a brick duplex on Anacostia Avenue. The question for the court was whether the officers acted legally and reasonably when they arrested 21 people for trespassing. Also at issue: whether they should still be shielded from the lawsuit and upward of $1 million in damages even if the officers were wrong and did not meet the “probable cause” standard.
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