A federal jury in Atlanta ruled against Valdosta State University President Ronald Zaccari for violating the rights of former student Hayden Barnes. Zaccari expelled Barnes without due process for his peaceful protest of the president’s’ plan to build two parking garages on campus. The jury awarded Barnes $50,000. (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), February 1, 2013)
FIRE helped Barnes in his lawsuit and with 14 other groups including the Cato Institute, filed an amicus brief.
In his defense, Zaccari claimed he had immunity from liability as a public official acting in official capacity, but his argument did not prevail. “Qualified immunity is intended to protect public officials who sincerely believe their actions are reasonable and constitutional, not those who willfully and maliciously ignore well known law in a determined effort to deprive another of constitutional rights,” wrote Ilya Shapiro for the Cato Institute, February 4, 2013. -db