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Verdicts & Settlements
Posted August 25, 2017, 7:00 am CDT
A Philadelphia lawyer will receive a $30,000 settlement in a suit claiming her constitutional rights were violated when she was handcuffed and detained in a holding cell for refusing to answer police officers’ questions during a traffic stop.
Philadelphia lawyer Rebecca Musarra settled the federal case last month, report NJ Advance Media and the Associated Press. The July 6 deal, which has not received judicial approval, was reported by NJ Civil Settlements on Wednesday.
New Jersey did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement, which stems from actions taken by New Jersey state troopers in October 2015, when they pulled Musarra over for alleged speeding. NJ Advance Media reviewed dashboard video of the arrest.
Musarra had provided her driver’s license, registration and insurance information to the troopers, but did not answer when asked questions such as, “Do you know why you’re being pulled over tonight?”
When one of the troopers advised Musarra she would be arrested if she continued to keep quiet, Musarra said she was a lawyer and didn’t have to answer questions. Troopers arrested Musarra anyway, and read Miranda rights to her, advising that she had the right to remain silent.
A police supervisor later ordered Musarra’s release.
Musarra told NJ Advance Media she hoped the case would become a civil liberties lesson.
“Hopefully this gives average citizens a little more courage to assert their rights,” she said.
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