RICHMOND — A Marine combat veteran from Chesterfield County who was ordered involuntarily into a Salem psychiatric hospital filed a federal suit today arguing he was illegally detained as part of a U.S. effort to suppress free speech "critical of the government's war efforts by veterans."
The complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia today lists some 15 defendants, including members of the Chesterfield Police Department and members of the county's Community Services Board who played a role in allegedly unlawfully detaining Brandon Raub and assessing the Marine veteran's mental condition.
Raub, 26, was taken into custody Aug. 16 last year, subjected to an involuntary commitment process and then ordered by a special justice into a state mental facility for veterans in western Virginia hundreds of miles from his home.
Raub, a vocal opponent of U.S. military actions, was released Aug. 23 after Hopewell Circuit Judge W. Allan Sharrett found there was no basis for Raub's detention and that a special justice had essentially failed to enumerate reasons for the need to detain him.
The legal challenge, which seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, is being brought by Raub and is supported by the Charlottesville-based Rutherford Institute and Raub's legal team, headed by former State Attorney General Anthony Troy of the Richmond law firm of Eckert, Seamans, Cherin and Mellott, and William H. Hurd of the Richmond firm of Troutman Sanders.
The complaint alleges that mental health workers and police illegally undertook "to silence the political speech of Raub and to chill the speech of others that is critical of the government," depriving Raub of his constitutional rights. Raub's plight was followed across the country and generated tens of thousands of responses from sympathizers.
“Brandon Raub’s case exposed the seedy underbelly of a governmental system that is targeting military veterans for expressing their discontent over America’s rapid transition to a police state,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute in a press release.
“Brandon Raub is not the first veteran to be targeted for speaking out against the government. Hopefully, by holding officials accountable, we can ensure that Brandon is the last to suffer in this way,” Whitehead said.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson.