What the heck is an Amicus Curaie?

Several months ago, committed cyclist Steven Orsak was stopped, assaulted, and tazed, by airport police simply because he rode his bike away from the terminal.

The case has gone to trail and Mr. Orsak was aquitted on four of the five counts against him, and is appealing the final charge of “Failing to Comply with Lawful Order”. Whatever “order” that might happen to be.

In an effort to assist in the appeal, and to help foster better understanding between law enforcement and the rights of cyclists, an organization called Bike Amici has been formed.

We are people who believe that bicyclists have the same rights as motorists, especially the right to fair and respectful treatment by police officers.

We are a project-driven organization, and our first project is supporting the interest of the bicycle community through the creation of an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief participating in the case Stephan is appealing. The amicus will be an independent analysis of the issues involved for the bicycle community as a whole. It will argue that police do not have the right to stop a bicyclist simply based on an officer’s perception that it might be dangerous to be bicycling, rather than driving a car. It is being written by Joe Vacek, attorney-at-law who owns the law firm Joe Vacek, PLLC and serves on the Minnesota State Bicycle Advocacy Committee.

This is a rather high-concept step toward better recognition of the rights of cyclists, but is much required if we desire to have a toe-hold in the courts when we go to plead our case or fight against discrimination and lack of understanding on the part of law enforcement.

As the Amicus states:

Of the approximately three hundred million people living in America, fifty-seven million of them ride a bicycle. Despite almost one-fourth of all Americans engaging in the activity, many law enforcement officers do not understand the statutory and Terry rights of bicycle operators. Bias against bicycle operators by motorists (including law enforcement) has existed since the turn of the 19th century. Bicycle operators continually deal with bias, misunderstanding, and unfair treatment by ignorant Peace Officers. Therefore, this Court must exercise its power to explicitly extend the protections of Terry to bicycle operators, to ensure fairness and just treatment in traffic law enforcement.

Word. Sign up and support.

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