Thursday, July 21, 2005

Roberts Upheld D.C. French-Fry Arrest

Yahoo! News
Roberts Upheld D.C. French-Fry Arrest

By JENNIFER C. KERR, Associated Press Writer

Judge John G. Roberts' views on abortion may be murky, but there's no question where he stands on the issue of girls eating fries in a subway station.

As a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Roberts wrote a decision last year upholding the arrest of a 12-year-old girl who violated the ban on eating food on Washington's subway system, Metro.

But Roberts said that while the arrest was legal, he felt transit officers overreacted by handcuffing and jailing the girl.

"No one is very happy about the events that led to this litigation," he wrote. "Her shoelaces were removed, and she was transported in the windowless rear compartment of a police vehicle to a juvenile processing center, where she was booked, fingerprinted, and detained until released to her mother some three hours later — all for eating a single french fry."

Still, Roberts agreed with a lower court ruling upholding the arrest

"The District court described the policies that led to her arrest as 'foolish,' and indeed the policies were changed after those responsible endured the sort of publicity reserved for adults who make young girls cry," he wrote.

"The question before us, however, is not whether these policies were a bad idea, but whether they violated the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution. Like the District court, we conclude that they did not, and accordingly we affirm."

Two months after the arrest, and following a torrent of bad publicity, the transit agency revised its policy and said that children under 18 who committed minor offenses would instead be enrolled in a program run in cooperation with school authorities and other city officials.