Private Citizens Who Seized Alleged Cockfighting Animals Immune

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By Patrick L. Gregory

A father and son can’t sue two private citizens involved in the seizure of their animals from an alleged cockfighting operation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held Jan. 3.

New Mexico police destroyed hundreds of Reyes Marin and Mario Marin’s roosters, hens, and eggs, using search warrants procured with the assistance of a state animal cruelty task force, the court said.

Heather Ferguson Greenhood and Dr. Patricia Feeser Norris were both private citizens and members of the task force, and the Marins alleged that they made false statements that led to issuance of the search warrants, the decision by Judge Carolyn B. McHugh said.

They had qualified immunity from being sued for allegedly violating the Marins’ right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment, the court ruled.

The private citizens were immune because the plaintiffs failed to cite case law showing that false statements “made to an affiant by a private citizen volunteer” could violate their Fourth Amendment rights.

The plaintiffs also failed to show that those citizens could be considered law enforcement officers, the court said.

Judges Scott M. Matheson Jr. and Robert E. Bacharach joined the decision.

Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward represented Mario and Reyes Marin.

SaucedoChavez represented Greenhood and Norris.

The case is Marin v. King , 2018 BL 1110, 10th Cir., No. 16-2225, 1/3/18 .

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick L. Gregory in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at

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