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Paul Wall Gig Raided
Highest Court Fifth Circuit
Year Ended 2009
Plaintiffs Individual(s)
Music Proprietor(s)
Defendants Police Officer(s)
Other Wall, Paul
Short Description As this court opinion makes clear, racism among governmental entities is not a thing of the past, though perhas we'd like to think it is. In the world of music, where racial lines sometimes delineate musical genres' intended populations, these prejudices may unfairly impact people who create, support, and promote specific genres. Hip-hop music, of course, is often the preferred target. In this case, Plaintiffs were two individuals who owned and operated Club Retro, a hip-hop club in Alexandria, Louisiana, operating legally under license from all appropriate agencies. Specifically, the Retro was allowed to admit patrons between the ages of 18 and 21, so long as they did not drink alcohol. The club took appropriate precautions to prevent the admission of illicit drugs, firearms, etc., and complied with governmental restrictions. Regardless, Club Retro was the subject of an excessive, violent S.W.A.T.-style raid, in which a group of police officers burst into the club with shotguns, handguns, and protective gear, physically, verbally, and arguably sexually assaulted numerous Plaintiffs, detained attendees for hours on end, denied patrons access to bathrooms, searched the entire establishment and everyone there, and committed other egregious acts in the process. Despite the intensity of the raid, the club, at the time the officers arrived, was operating legally: it was NOT overcrowded (only 500 people were there, though the capacity neared 700); underage patrons, who were fined by the officers, were present under governmental sanction; and only 7 people (less than 1%) were found with any illicit drugs, which is likely less than at a Phish gig. To make matters worse, the police blockaded a second concert, featuring Paul Wall, the following month, which prevented all but 67 people from attending. Plaintiffs sued, alleging First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment violations, and the governmental entities claimed "qualified immunity." Thankfully, the federal courts sided with Plaintiffs regarding Fourth Amendment accusations: the officers' actions were not supported by and plainly exceeded any administrative or inspective authority claimed by Defendants, and, in citing underage drinking and fire code violations as jusitications, the raid, arrests, and searches and seizures were objectively unreasonable and unsupported by even an inkling of probable cause. However, the court refused to find Defendants liable under First and Fourteenth Amendments, despite the officers' use of racial epithets during the raid. Though it's sad Defendants were allowed excuses for some of their actions, it's good to know their unacceptable behavior was sanctioned to a large extent. - LSW

Legal Issues
Constitutional Law First Amendment Free Exercise & Association
  Fourteenth Amendment Due Process
    Equal Protection
  Fourth Amendment Search & Seizure
General Affirmative Defenses Governmental Immunity
Torts Dignitary Torts Defamation & Injurious Falsehood
  General Interference with Family Relations
  Intentional Torts False Arrest/Imprisonment

Opinions Club Retro, L.L.C. v. Hilton
568 F.3d 181
Fifth Circuit , May 06, 2009 ( No. 08-30512 )

Club Retro, L.L.C. v. Hilton
2008 WL 1901723
W.D. Louisiana , April 04, 2008 ( No. CV-07-0193-A )

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Related Searches Parties
Individual(s) ( Plaintiff )
Music Proprietor(s) ( Plaintiff )
Police Officer(s) ( Defendant )
Wall, Paul ( Other )

Legal Issues
Constitutional Law / First Amendment / Free Exercise & Association
Constitutional Law / Fourteenth Amendment / Due Process
Constitutional Law / Fourteenth Amendment / Equal Protection
Constitutional Law / Fourth Amendment / Search & Seizure
General / Affirmative Defenses / Governmental Immunity
Torts / Dignitary Torts / Defamation & Injurious Falsehood
Torts / General / Interference with Family Relations
Torts / Intentional Torts / False Arrest/Imprisonment

Fifth Circuit (highest court)
W.D. Louisiana

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