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Hernandez v. Mesa

Case Status: On Appeal
United States

Amicus Brief in Supreme Court Promotes Justice for Teen Killed by CBP

Background

Brady filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of the United States, supporting a case brought by the family of an unarmed fifteen-year-old was shot and killed in Mexico by a rogue U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") officer in the United States. Seeking justice on his behalf, Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca's family ("Petitioners") filed suit against the rogue officer, claiming he violated their son's constitutional rights.

The district court granted the defendant officer's motion to dismiss, finding that Sergio, as a Mexican national who was killed on Mexican soil, did not technically have constitutional rights. On appeal, the Fifth Circuit found that while the Petitioners had no basis for a constitutional claim, they did have an implied right of action under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 408 U.S. 388 (1971). Bivens is a case that recognizes an implied right of action against a federal official who violates constitutional rights while acting under federal authority. Despite this, a full Fifth Circuit panel subsequently reheard and dismissed the case, finding, among other things, that the Petitioners failed to state a claim for relief. Then the Supreme Court considered a separate issue in the case, before remanding it back to the Fifth Circuit who ultimately decided that Bivens does not entitle the Petitioners to bring a claim. The case is now once again before the Supreme Court who will consider whether the Petitioners can bring a Bivens claim against the rogue officer who shot their son when no other remedy is available.

In a brief supporting Sergio's family, Brady argued that that gun violence is an epidemic that harms law enforcement and civilians alike. In extraordinary acts of bravery and service, police officers confront America's gun violence epidemic every day. But, as with every profession, there are a few bad apples. When, as here, a rogue officer, uses unjustified, lethal force, accountability is critical.

Further, the Bivens remedy not only promotes accountability and justice, but also deterrence and in the CBP context, deterrence is particularly important. CBP has the largest collection of armed law enforcement agents in the country. The vast majority of CBP agents act with honor, but there have been numerous excessive force allegations against CBP agents. In many cases, the Bivens remedy is the only available remedy to deter misconduct and compensate victims. Brady argued that no one is above the law and that gun violence, regardless of the perpetrator's status or the victim's citizenship, requires accountability.


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