Remember this? The verdict’s in and the vicious comments at the Chronicle’s website have already begun: “He should have just shot them and buried them on his ranch. Shoot, shovel, and shutup. Who’s gonna report them missing?” A fitting sentiment on the day Ramos and Compean were sprung given their own attempt to cover up their crime.

That said, how can a guy be liable for holding potentially dangerous trespassers on his property at gunpoint until the cops come?

A federal jury found Tuesday that a southern Arizona rancher didn’t violate the civil rights of a group of illegal immigrants who claimed that he detained them at gunpoint in 2004.

The eight-member civil jury also found Roger Barnett wasn’t liable on claims of battery and false imprisonment.

But the jury did find him liable on four claims of assault and four claims of infliction of emotional distress and ordered Barnett to pay $77,804 in damages — $60,000 of which were punitive.

Barnett declined to comment afterward, but one of his attorneys, David Hardy, said the plaintiffs lost on the bulk of their claims and that Barnett has a good basis for appeal on the two counts on which he lost.

I’m at a loss. All I can figure is that he somehow went above and beyond simply holding them. There was a dog involved. Maybe he gave them the Abu Ghraib treatment? The tort of assault typically involves fear of bodily harm while infliction of emotional distress turns on “outrageous conduct”; threatening to have a snarling pitbull tear their arms off would arguably qualify on both counts, if in fact something like that happened, but is that really any worse than pointing a gun at them? Enlighten me, ambulance chasers.

Tags: Arizona