The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer didn’t violate a female driver’s constitutional rights by detaining her from a restroom while she suffered from severe diarrhea, a move that caused, well, a mess.
In June 2014, successful San Diego businesswoman Toni Antonellis had been driving from Ventura County through Orange County on the way home when she felt the onslaught on impending painful diarrhea and broke out in a sweat.
Typical heavy, mid-morning Southern California traffic stalled her ability to exit the freeway near El Toro Road and so she twice impermissibly crossed over double yellow lines for the HOV lane, catching the attention of Aaron Rothberg, a CHP officer.
In her federal lawsuit, Antonellis claimed Rothberg, a onetime bodyguard for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, violated her Fourth Amendment protection against excessive force plus committed battery under state law by instigating a stop, ignoring her desperate pleas to use a restroom, handcuffing her for nine minutes and causing a delay that ended with her soiling herself in the backseat of a CHP cruiser.
Orange County’s U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna, an appointee of President George W. Bush, blocked a potential future jury from considering Antonellis’ complaint by handing Rothberg a summary judgment ruling.
In their terse, two-page opinion on June 22, a Ninth Circuit panel of three judges—Mark Bennett (backed by Donald Trump), Morgan Christen (backed by Sarah Palin and Barack Obama) and Ferdinand Fernandez (backed by George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan)—claimed that “no reasonable” jury would have sided with Antonellis.
They affirmed Selna’s decision.
R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.