SAN ANTONIO, TX – MALDEF lauded the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Vicente v. Barnett, denying the vigilante Roger Barnett’s final request to re-hear an appellate ruling that affirmed a jury verdict in favor of the immigrants. In an earlier panel decision issued on February 4, 2011, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the jury’s award of approximately $87,000 in damages against Barnett and in favor of a group of immigrants he had assaulted and terrorized. In a one-sentence ruling, the Court today denied Barnett’s petition for rehearing.
Following a two-week trial in 2009 before the late Chief Judge John Roll, a jury returned a verdict awarding actual and punitive damages to the immigrants. The trial set off a wave of anti-immigrant rhetoric and threats were made to Chief Judge Roll. Despite the threats, Judge Roll upheld the verdict, choosing to apply the rule of law as he always did.
“It is time for Barnett to pay for his crime,” stated David Hinojosa, MALDEF’s Southwest Regional Counsel and attorney in the case. “He had a fair trial before the Honorable Judge Roll, a jury of his peers ruled against him and he has exhausted his appeals. Our American justice system demands that he now own up to his responsibilities and pay the victims for his senseless actions.”
Prior to Barnett’s attack, the plaintiffs had been resting on public land near Douglas, Arizona. Barnett was armed with a gun – a semi-automatic .45 – and was accompanied by a large dog. He held the group captive, threatening that his dog would attack and that he would shoot anyone who tried to leave. During the encounter, Barnett kicked a woman as she was lying, unarmed, on the ground.