US Supreme Court: Rancher Barnett Must Pay $87,000 to Illegal Immigrants
The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a 2009 ruling against Cochise County rancher Roger Barnett, forcing him to pay about $87,000 in damages related to his assault of illegal immigrants on his ranch in 2004.
The decision comes after the same ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in February.
The court disagreed with the arguments made in the appeal, which included a claim that U.S. District Judge John Roll made errors while presiding over the 2009 trial. Roll was one of six people killed in the Jan. 8 mass shooting in Tucson.
In that February 2009 trial, a federal jury issued a split verdict in the case against Barnett stemming from the 2004 incident. The jury found he didn’t violate the group’s civil rights and that he wasn’t liable on claims of battery and false imprisonment.
But the jury found him liable on four claims of assault and four claims of infliction of emotional distress, and ordered Barnett to pay $77,804 in damages. The $87,000 he must pay reflects that original amount plus interest.
The 2004 incident occurred near Douglas when Barnett approached a group of 16 illegal immigrants while he was carrying a gun and accompanied by a large dog. Attorneys for the plaintiffs - five women and 11 men who had crossed into the U.S. illegally - say Barnett held the group captive at gunpoint, threatening that his dog would attack and that he would shoot anyone who tried to escape.
Read the rest here.
UPDATE: From Time Magazine, Aug 29, 1999:
… In Arizona, the border patrol is no longer the only obstacle. Now there is Roger Barnett, a 56-year-old rancher and former deputy sheriff who has discovered a new sport. Every Sunday he heads out onto his land with an assault rifle, a 9-mm handgun, high-powered binoculars, a two-way radio and his dog Mikey to capture immigrants crossing his 22,000-acre property, which sits between the border and the highway. He says he is tired of the plastic water bottles and bags illegals scatter over his land. Migrants trying to quench their thirst have also broken the hoses on his water-storage tanks, draining thousands of gallons meant for his cows. In the last year, Barnett estimates, he has captured more than 1,000 illegals—once 86 in a single day—and turned them over to the Border Patrol. (He has also intercepted a shipment of marijuana.) “This is an M-16 fully automatic,” he says, looking out over the desert landscape of sagebrush and mesquite on a recent morning. “It’s a war out here.”
His war is intensely political, the us-versus-them battle heard throughout the debate over illegal immigration. “They’ve got no right to be in the U.S.,” he says. “If the U.S. doesn’t control this before too long we’re going to have so many illegal aliens that we’ll be no better off than Mexico.” Barnett, who has been accused of vigilantism by immigrants-rights groups, says he’s simply doing what the government is not. He also admits that the hunter in him enjoys tracking migrants. Earlier this year, friends from Ohio carved a free day into a business trip so they could join Barnett and his brother looking for illegals. They caught several dozen. “Humans,” Barnett says. “That’s the greatest prey there is on earth. They’re your equal.”
He pulls his pickup off the highway to a spot where he says migrants often hide while they wait for rides. The dog jumps the guardrail and starts barking. Barnett follows, his rifle slung over his shoulder. People are running away. “Hombre! Hombre!” he shouts. The dog corners them in a clearing, seven men and a woman. Barnett marches them out to the road and radios his wife to call the Border Patrol. The agent who arrives seems grateful for the help. “If I lived out here,” he says, loading the migrants into his truck, “I’d pretty much do the same thing.”