Frank M. Brown, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the Asheville (N.C.) VA Medical Center, was sued by a Jehovah’s Witness named William Clinton, who claimed Dr. Brown refused to operate on him and thereby violated his First Amendment right to freedom of religion. Though the case raises some interesting questions, it was dismissed by a U.S. District Court for reasons having little or nothing to do with the religious component. For one, Dr. Brown was protected by the Qualified Immunity Doctrine, which insulates federal employees from personal liability under most circumstances. Also, in the absence of legislative remedies, plaintiffs may sue for constitutional violations involving the Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Amendments, but they can’t do so for First Amendment violations, according to the Supreme Court. Continue reading
An accused killer seeks to escape murder charges, claiming that if his victim wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness, he would have lived. Jehovah’s Witness beliefs include refusing certain medical interventions, including blood transfusions. In this case, the shooter claims that if his victim hadn’t refused a transfusion, he’d still be alive. Thus, he claims, his actions — shooting the man four times — wasn’t the reason the victim died. Instead, he maintains, the refusal of life-saving medical intervention killed the man.
The Fresno Bee reports that David Quevedo shot Omar Silva four times outside Silva’s home. Lying on the ground, Silve is said to have moaned, “Jehovah, Jehovah, I’m dying, I’m dying.” This all took place in 2013, when Quevedo went on a rampage after his favorite football team, the 49ers, lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl. (Frighteningly, this wasn’t the only violent attack by an angry 49ers fan after a game that year.)
Now, two years later, the case has made it to trial — and Quevedo’s attorney says it wasn’t murder, because if Omar Silva, a Jehovah’s Witness, had simply had a blood transfusion, his life could have been saved. Continue reading