Could Madison Miner be sued for false arrest?

Yes. Madison Miner went on a campaign of citizen’s arrests on or about February 23, 2024, attempting to exact vigilante justice by instructing police officers to arrest well-educated and well-connected members of the public. The reason you don’t hear much about citizens’ arrests is because they carry extreme penalties of civil tort damages and potentially even criminal penalties.

What did Madison Miner do?

On Thursday, February 22 and 23, 2024, Madison Miner, joined by No on Recall paid media director Frank Rodriquez, called the police to observe their claim that campaign signs had been stolen.

Madison Miner then personally signed multiple documents entitled “Orange Police Department Statement of Private Person’s Arrest.”

In each instance, Madison Miner “demanded” that the Orange Police Department arrest the person who had allegedly taken signs. This is shown below.

What does the law say about citizens arrest?

Penal Code § 837 provides that

A private person may arrest another:

1. For a public offense committed or attempted in his presence.

2. When the person arrested has committed a felony, although not in his presence.

3. When a felony has been in fact committed, and he has reasonable cause for believing the person arrested to have committed it.

Clearly, since this is not a felony, but instead an alleged petty theft, Madison Miner would need to allege that there was a “public offense committed or attempted in his [or her] presence.”

As to whether the crime was attempted in Madison Miner’s presence: “Under section 836, the term ‘presence’ does not require physical proximity but, rather, the crime must be apparent to the officer’s senses; the same interpretation applies to arrests by citizens. The ‘senses’ include the sense of hearing, so a public offense may be committed in an officer’s presence when his auditory perception is effected by an electronic device, such as an electronic wire worn by an undercover officer.” People v. Bloom (2010) 185 Cal.App.4th 1496, 1501.

If the police officer accepted the citizen’s arrest, that means the suspect did the crime, right?

Wrong. “A peace officer who accepts custody of a person following a citizen’s arrest is not required to correctly determine whether the arrest was justified, and cannot be held liable for the arrest if it was improper. (Pen. Code, § 847).” Hamburg v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 497, 503–504.

In other words, the police officers were required to cooperate with Madison Miner’s citizens’ arrest or those officers could themselves be subject to a felony.

Did the officer think that Madison Miner was correct to arrest the person?

No. The law is that: “Section 849…permits a peace officer, when a person has been arrested by a private citizen and delivered to him pursuant to section 847, to release the arrested person from custody if he, the peace officer, ‘is satisfied that there is no ground for making a criminal complaint against the person arrested.” Kinney v. County of Contra Costa (1970) 8 Cal.App.3d 761, 767.

Here, the reporting of Frank Rodriquez admits that the individuals were released on the spot. This would tend towards a finding that the officer thought the entire incident was bogus such that there was “no ground for making a criminal complaint against the person arrested.”

Can Madison Miner be sued for her actions?

Yes. The reason you don’t hear much about citizen’s arrest is because it is risky. The law is that: “False arrest is not a different tort but merely one way of committing the tort of false imprisonment. The tort of false imprisonment ‘is premised upon a violation of the personal liberty of another accomplished without lawful authority…. [W]hile a person falsely arrested by a citizen ordinarily has no remedy against the peace officer who took him or her into custody as a result of the arrest, he or she has a tort remedy against the offending citizen.” Hamburg v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 497, 503–504.

OUSD Facts Truth-o-Meter: False as to Madison Miner / No on Recall

No on Recall’s paid communications professional Frank Rodriguez posted on his blog numerous insinuations that the police did the arrest and that Madison Miner had nothing to do with it. These include:

  • Headline: “3 Arrests Made Against OUSD Recall Supporters”
  • Claim: “It has been confirmed that three arrests have been made by the Orange Police Department for the theft of the signs that have gone missing from the “No on Recall” movement.”

The truth is that Madison Miner and/or Frank Rodriguez were the ones who called the police and Madison Miner signed the citizens’ arrest form.

This clearly misleading “news” was generated solely by the campaign. There is no evidence of a police investigation independent of Madison Miner’s call to police.

Frank Rodriquez did attempt to salvage the truth of the story in admitting the obvious: That “government agencies such as the cities have…worked with both campaigns in returning” stolen signs. In other words, there are bad actors taking down signs of both campaigns.

Police costume picture courtesy of Amazon.