Retaliatory search and seizure by ABC and PoliceRuttenberg v. Jones (amicus)

David Ruttenberg is the manager of the Rack ‘N’ Roll Billiard Club (RNR) is located in Manassas Park, Virginia.  In 2001, Ruttenberg complained to a supervisor at the Manassas Park Police Department  about the conduct of a particular officer.  Allegedly in retaliation for this complaint, the officer engaged in conduct over the course of several years designed to shut down the RNR.   First, he used other officers and confidential informants to set up bogus drug deals at the club.  Then, he arranged a police raid of RNR, but was unable to obtain a warrant.  He therefore recruited the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to participate in the raid, in order to disguise the warrantless search as a routine ABC administrative inspection.  ABC subsequently revoked RNR’s license to serve alcohol, based on the fabricated evidence of drug deals on the premises.   Ruttenberg sued the officers responsible for this conduct in federal court in Alexandria, but the judge dismissed the case, stating that Ruttenberg’s allegations did not amount to any constitutional violation.  Ruttenberg appealed.

On June 16, 2007, we filed an amicus brief on Ruttenberg’s behalf in the United States Court of Appeal for the Fourth Circuit.   In the brief, we argued that the defendants violated Ruttenberg’s Fourth Amendment rights by conducting a warrantless search under the guise of an administrative inspection, and violated his First Amendment rights by retaliating against him for his constitutionally protected speech. The case is fully briefed and arguments were heard on March 19, 2008. On June 17, 2008, the Fourth Circuit upheld the dismissal on all counts except the Fourth Amendment claim, which was remanded to the district court.

Court Documents (click links to view .pdf)
Brief Amicus Curiae, June 2007- U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit



Rebecca Glenberg, ACLU of Virginia

Date filed

June 14, 2007


U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit