The Quiet Man and Civil Rights

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The government property code inspector prosecuted a citizen for refusing to consent to a warrantless inspection of the interior of his house. The code enforcement officer claimed that he wanted to "inspect" the interior of the house. There is no difference between an inspection and a search for purposes of constitutional law. The government may not prosecute a citizen for exercising his right to decline to consent to a warrantless search or inspection of his house. See Fourth (4th) and Eighth (8th) Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article 1 Section 12 of the New York State Constitution. A prosecution for the lawful exercise of a constitutional right is actionable as a violation of one's civil rights under New York State and federal law. See 42 USC sections 1983, 1985; New York Civil Rights Law sections 8 & 11. If the citizen prevails on a federal constitutional claim he may recover his reasonable attorney's fees from the government as well. 42 USC 1988.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Michael Burger, Santiago Burger LLP | Attorney Advertising

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