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March 13, 2024

Attorney General Bird Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Support Law Enforcement

DES MOINES—Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird today led a 19-state coalition in urging the United States Supreme Court to support law enforcement in Chiaverini v. City of Napoleon, Ohio.

In 2016, Jascha Chiaverini bought stolen jewelry from a thief to sell in his store. When law enforcement asked him to return the jewelry, Chiaverini refused. The officers executed a search warrant to retrieve the stolen jewelry and arrested Chiaverini on three charges. All charges were eventually dropped.

Chiaverini then sued the police officers and the city of Napoleon for 3 million taxpayer dollars in damages. The district court found that the police had probable cause to arrest him for two of the three crimes. It then ruled against Chiaverini because the arrest for the third crime did not harm him—even if he had been arrested only for the first two crimes, he would have spent the same amount of time in jail. Now, the Supreme Court will decide whether to uphold the ruling that protects police or give damages to Chiaverini for his arrest for that third crime.

“Our law enforcement heroes work a challenging job to keep us safe,” said Attorney General Bird. “The last thing they need is to fear being sued for doing their job. This case is just one example of officers who used the information available to them to act in good faith to enforce the law. But they are not alone. My office is urging the Supreme Court to protect our brave law enforcement officers.”

The states make the case to protect law enforcement from lawsuits when a would-be criminal defendant is arrested for multiple crimes, one of the crimes is not supported by probable cause, and the arrest for that crime caused no difference in the nature or length of the detention.

Iowa led the amicus brief and was joined by Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.

Read the full amicus brief here.

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For More Information:

Alyssa Brouillet | Communications Director

(515) 823-9112

alyssa.brouillet@ag.iowa.gov

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