Hoyland v. McMenomy, No. 16-2222 (8th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of qualified immunity to police officers in plaintiff's suit alleging violation of his First and Fourth Amendment rights. Determining that it had jurisdiction over the interlocutory appeal, the court held that, under Minnesota law, it was not objectively reasonable for the officers to believe they had probable cause to arrest plaintiff for obstruction. In this case, plaintiff stood in his own lighted doorway 30-40 feet from the officers and plaintiff's wife, and exercised directed verbal criticism at the officers while conveying a message that his wife was disabled and could not follow police instructions. The court held that plaintiff's criticism did not amount to anything resembling "fighting words" and that plaintiff's communications were protected First Amendment activity. The officers' actions had a chilling effect on defendant's right to free speech, and a jury must decide whether plaintiff has shown a causal connection between his verbal conduct and the adverse actions taken against him.