The Hodges arrest video is making rounds on the internet, along with commentary. It strikes me that the commentary is not focused on the most central fact of the case.
The focus of most of the commentary is on the Terry stop (Terry v. Ohio, 391 U.S. 1 (1968) (Warren, C.J.)) and the lawfulness of the original detention. That detention was (it appears to me) illegal. Thus, it is no surprise (as has been reported) that the state’s attorney has declined to prosecute Hodges. Likewise, it is no surprise (as has been reported) that one or both of the police officers have been disciplined.
What is not being discussed sufficiently (if at all) is the last 10 to 15 seconds of the video. In that segment, Hodges asks the arresting officers for their names and identification numbers, and he indicates that he will seek some sanction against them for their wrongfully detaining him. Hodges appears to be “threatening” to sue them. But such a “threat” is not illegal; rather, it is lawful First-Amendment-protected speech. It is only at that juncture that the more senior police officer tells his junior to arrest Hodges for “resisting” arrest. It seems to me that any such arrest is fairly characterized as retaliation for Hodges’ exercising free speech. Any such retaliation is a consequential constitutional violation quite apart from the initial wrongful detention.
When one adds, that Hodges is (apparently) legally blind, and a veteran (as has been reported), and was on the street in the early morning specifically because he was returning home from a mandatory jury duty summons (or, so he claims), he will make a most sympathetic civil rights (42 U.S.C. § 1983) plaintiff before any jury.
Finally, it is all captured on video. So the facts will not be much in dispute. Lawyers should be lining up around the block to take this case. It might be worth a big pay day—whether it goes to trial or settles. And even if the defendants (i.e., the municipality and the individual officers) are only compelled to make a payment at the smaller end of the spectrum, Hodges’ case should be a very easy win, and it should be a win taking little time. Any trial court victory will place the lawyer in the news. It is free favorable advertising for his or her practice and/or for a future run for political office.
UPDATE: The Arrest of James Hodges: An Update, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-QDMUdGfEw>;
Seth Barrett Tillman, ‘The Arrest of James Hodges,’ New Reform Club (Nov. 13, 2022, 5:07 AM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2022/11/the-arrest-of-james-hodges.html>;