Meet Dudley Hiibel. He's a 59 year old cowboy who owns a small ranch outside of Winnemucca, Nevada. He lives a simple life, but he's his own man. You probably never would have heard of Dudley Hiibel if it weren't for his belief in the U.S. Constitution.
One balmy May evening back in 2000, Dudley was standing around minding his own business when all of a sudden, a policeman pulled-up and demanded that Dudley produce his ID. Dudley, having done nothing wrong, declined. He was arrested and charged with "failure to cooperate" for refusing to show ID on demand. And it's all on video.
On the 22nd of March 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether Dudley and the rest of us live in a free society, or in a country where we must show "the papers" whenever a cop demands them.
Welcome to Humboldt County. Papers, Please.
No? You're Under Arrest.
On the evening of the 21st of May, 2000, Dudley Hiibel stepped out of his red 1988 GMC pick-up truck and lit a cigarette. The pick-up was parked on the side of Grass Valley Road, a rural stretch of asphalt that leads out of the mining town of Winnemucca into the rural cattle ranching area where Dudley lives and farms.
Grass Valley Road, where the incident occurred.
The pick-up had been driven by Dudley's 17 year-old daughter Mimi, with whom Dudley had been having an argument over a boy Dudley didn't approve of that she'd been seeing in town. Mimi got mad at her dad and punched him in the shoulder. They continued shouting at one another as they drove back to to the ranch, and Mimi eventually pulled over the truck after her dad said he wanted out.
That's what Dudley Hiibel was doing that May evening in 2000: standing on the side of Grass Valley Road smoking a cigarette, his elbow resting on the rolled-down passenger window, talking with his daughter.
Then the police arrived.
Deputy Lee Dove of the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department came on the scene - siren a-wailing - in response to a domestic violence report. Someone saw Mimi arguing with her dad and thought it had come to blows. The witness said that he saw "a man with a black cowboy hat" who "slugged the female". Dove was there to investigate the report.
Everything that happened next is all on videotape... you be the judge.
If you think that the first thing Deputy Dove would do on the scene would be to make sure the 'slugged female' was all right, you would be wrong. Deputy Dove never asked or even looked at Mimi until she had been thrown to the ground face-first and handcuffed.
Deputy Lee Dove's ideas on law enforcement are not those of the average American.
But that comes later in the story.
Rather than investigate the complaint, Deputy Dove (who has twice had evidence he collected suppressed by the court) instead began to demand Dudley Hiibel show his ID. Eleven times Dove demanded Dudley show 'his papers'. Dudley asked a simple question: why?
"Because I'm investigating", said Dove.
"Investigating what?" Dudley asked.
"I'm investigating an investigation" was Dove's non-reply.
Eleven times Dove demanded Dudley's ID. And when the Deputy decided Dudley wasn't "going to cooperate", he cuffed, then tossed him in the back of his patrol car.
And It Didn't Stop There
Meanwhile, Dudley's daughter was watching the encounter between her dad and the Law from the cab of the pick-up truck. You can hear her screaming "Nooo" as her father is being handcuffed.
Another policeman, a Nevada state trooper by the name of Merschel, was on the scene and was holding the door of the pick-up truck shut so that Mimi couldn't get out. Screaming, she finally forced the door open only to be thrown face down into the hard dirt by the side of the road by Trooper Merschel.
The video is almost too painful to watch at this point. A second trooper climbs on top of Mimi and he and Trooper Merschel brutally pin 17 year-old Mimi to the ground and slap on the cuffs.
Dudley and his pick-up.
With Dudley Hiibel arrested for refusing to show ID and his daughter Mimi beaten and in handcuffs, Deputy Lee Dove now comes over to talk to Mimi and 'investigate'.
Dudley Hiibel was charged with Domestic Battery, Battery, Acts Which Constitute Domestic Violence, and Obstructing/Delaying A Peace Officer. As there was no battery or domestic violence involved, the only charge that was left was Delaying A Peace Officer. By refusing to show Deputy Lee Dove his ID, Dudley was fined $250.00 . He's appealling it all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
It is this very charge that is now coming before the U.S. Supreme Court on the 22nd of March. The question before the Court is this: Did Dudley's refusal to show ID give Deputy Dove the probable cause needed to arrest him? Or is it the Constitutional right of every American to just say 'no' when asked to produce 'the papers'?
Mimi Hiibel was hauled-off to juvenile detention and charged with resisting arrest. In court, her father asked the judge a simple question: what charge was Mimi arrested for resisting? The case was dismissed.
Watch the video. See the incident unfold. You decide...