UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
of the Interior, et al. 1977.CDC.180
Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Civil Action No. 398-72).
Wright, Leventhal and Wilkey, Circuit Judges. Opinion for the court filed by Circuit Judge Leventhal. Concurring opinion filed by Circuit Judge Wilkey.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LEVENTHAL
This is an appeal from the ruling of the district court on plaintiffs' motion for determination of appropriate damages, expungement of arrest records and other relief. I. BACKGROUND
On Sunday, April 25, 1971, plaintiffs participated in a peaceful Quaker vigil of prayer on the White House sidewalk. The purpose of the vigil was "to hold Richard Nixon in the light" in the hope that the government's war policies in Vietnam would thereby be altered. The vigil had been scheduled to continue from noon until midnight. When persons thought to be "outsiders" joined the vigil, police lines were established, and the vigil participants were ordered to disperse. When the plaintiffs refused, they were arrested. The vigil was thus terminated approximately 2 1/2 hours after its start.
Each plaintiff was arrested, photographed with the arresting officer, in accordance with standard field arrest procedures, and placed on a bus for transportation to the station house. A crowd of spectators had gathered. All plaintiffs were subject to the police booking process, including fingerprinting and mug shots and, although the time span varied among individual plaintiffs, approximately three to four hours of confinement went by before any plaintiffs were offered the opportunity to post collateral.
Thereafter, all plaintiffs except one were offered the opportunity to post $10 collateral and be released. Seventeen of the 28 adult plaintiffs *fn1 refused to post collateral,
because, as some of them testified in substance on deposition, (1) they believed that their arrests were unjustified and that posting collateral would somehow give an air of legitimacy to the arrests; and (2) they held the conviction as a matter of conscience that they could not participate in the bail system which discriminated against persons without sufficient money to "buy" their release. *fn2
These plaintiffs complain of a variety of indignities before being released the next morning.
On March 13, 1974, the district court held the arrests were unlawful and that Inspector William Trussell of the Metropolitan Police Department who ordered the arrests was individually liable and that the District of Columbia was liable for the actions of Inspector Trussell. *fn3 The court accepted Inspector Trussell's subjective good faith in establishing the police lines and ordering dispersal, but on an objective standard found this action unreasonable. Defendants have not contested this ruling on liability. On December 14, 1974, the district court entered its rulings on damages. *fn4 Plaintiffs sought approximately $775,000 as compensatory damages, identified as: $10,000 per plaintiff for the disruption of the vigil demonstration, $10,000 per plaintiff for the arrest without cause, attendant indignities and four hour incarceration; $10,000 for each of the 17 plaintiffs who refused to post collateral and incurred longer confinement and additional indignities; and lesser amounts for plaintiffs who suffered particular injuries.
The plaintiffs are mostly older, mature individuals. *fn5 At the hearing on damages, eight plaintiffs testified on a stipulation that their testimony was "typical or representative of the various types of injuries suffered by plaintiffs . . . ." Plaintiffs also sought punitive damages of $100 per plaintiff against Inspector Trussell, and $1000 per plaintiff against the District of Columbia.
The district court awarded $100 damages to each plaintiff, plus an additional $64 to plaintiff Miles Day for loss of wages. It ordered Inspector Trussell to pay $500 damages personally, the rest of damages being awarded against the District of Columbia. It denied punitive damages. On December 12, 1975, the district court ...