First Amendment
First Amendment Retaliation

Sharpe v. Winterville (Petition for Writ of Certiorari)

Brief Details

Brian Morris
Anya Bidwell
Senior Attorney
Date Filed
Original Court
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
Current Court
United States Supreme Court

The Winterville Police Department retaliated against Dijon Sharpe because he recorded the police during a traffic stop. Afterwards, Mr. Sharpe sued the police for nominal damages under Section 1983. The Fourth Circuit, however, granted qualified immunity for the police because of who was doing the recording (Mr. Sharpe was a passenger) and how he was recording (Mr. Sharpe was using Facebook Live). As a result, the Fourth Circuit dismissed the claims.

In the Fourth Circuit, the Institute for Justice filed an amicus brief at the merits stage and supporting Mr. Sharpe’s en banc petition. For the latter, the Institute for Justice explained why qualified immunity should not even apply to Mr. Sharpe’s claims because he asked only for nominal damages—not compensatory damages.

The Institute for Justice also filed an amicus brief supporting Mr. Sharpe’s petition for a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. In this brief, the Institute for Justice urged the Supreme Court to take the case and provide a clear and definitive rule about the right to record the police: Yes, the First Amendment protects the right of individuals to film police officers in public—and the police cannot arrest or retaliate against someone for exercising that right.