ATLANTA (AP) - Federal appeals judges say two deputies cannot be
sued for arresting a man who refused to let a Florida agriculture
agent remove a citrus tree suspected of canker infection from his
Sterling Thomas Cowart of Fort Lauderdale was pepper-sprayed,
thrown to the ground and arrested by Broward County sheriff's
deputies after demanding to see a warrant for removal of his
tangerine tree in February 2002. An obstruction charged was
dropped, and Cowart sued, claiming his constitutional rights were
violated. He won a $25,000 judgment in federal court.
An 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel overturned the
judgment Wednesday. It said Deputies Armondo Enrique and Jeff Poole
were entitled to immunity because they reasonably believed no
warrant was necessary and were acting within discretionary duties.