Drew v. Connolly
A qualified immunity defense is established if: 1.) the defendant's conduct did not violate clearly established law; or 2.) it was objectively reasonable for the defendant to believe that his conduct did not violate such law, pursuant to Tierney v. Davidson, a 1998 decision of the 2nd Circuit. Allegedly, Brian Connolly observed the plaintiff, John Drew, operate a motor vehicle. Connolly conducted field sobriety tests and seized the plaintiff's driver's license. John Drew sued the City of Groton and individual defendants and alleged that the defendants violated his due-process rights. The District Court granted Connolly's motion for judgment on the basis of qualified immunity. The plaintiff appealed and argued that Connolly's seizure of his driver's license after his arrest violated his 14th Amendment due-process rights. Although the seizure of Drew's driver's license violated Connecticut law and the police department's written policy, an action that violates state law does not necessarily violate individual constitutional rights. "The procedure mandated by state [ ] law is not the benchmark for evaluating whether or not there has been a federal constitutional violation," pursuant to Young v. County of Fulton, a 1998 decision of the 2nd Circuit. The jury was entitled to find it was objectively reasonable for Connolly to believe that seizing the plaintiff's license did not violate his due-process rights. Connolly could have believed that the plaintiff was under the influence of something other than alcohol, based on visual observations of Drew's driving and field sobriety tests. The District Court properly granted Connolly's motion for judgment on qualified immunity. Connolly did not violate due-process rights when he prevented Drew from operating a motor vehicle. The 2nd Circuit affirmed the judgment of the District Court, Arterton, J. Mary M. Puhlick represented the plaintiff. James Tallberg represented the defendants.