SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS QUALIFIED IMMUNITY FOR OFFICER ENTERING RESIDENCE

In its first decision of the 2013-2014 season the Supreme Court reversed a finding by the Ninth Circuit that an officer was not protected by qualified immunity for entering a residence in hot pursuit. When La Mesa, California police officer Mike Stanton responded to a complaint of a street disturbance he found three men standing on the street. While he did not see a crime in progress, one of the men, Nicholas Patrick ran into a nearby house. Sims ordered […] Read more »

THE SUPREME COURT AND DNA

Probably the most important criminal case decided by the Supreme Court this year was Maryland v. King. The Supreme Court upheld the taking of a DNA sample from a person arrested for a felony. It found that the taking of a DNA sample permissible under the Fourth Amendment. Alonzo King was arrested in Maryland in 2009 for “first and second-degree assault for menacing a group of people with a shotgun.” Upon his arrest he was taken to the jail and […] Read more »

FLORIDA MANDATES SEARCH WARRANT TO SEARCH CELL PHONE OF IN CUSTODY SUSPECTS

The Florida Supreme Court held this month, that once a cell phone is seized from a suspect who is in custody, the police need a search warrant to view the contents on the phone. Tyrone Smallwood was a arrested for a robbery of a convenience store. While he wore a mask the cashier recognized his voice as that of a regular customer. At the time of his arrest police seized his cell phone. After Smallwood was arrested and placed in […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT REQUIRES SEARCH WARRANT BEFORE THE NONCONSENSUAL TAKING OF A BLOOD SAMPLE

The Supreme Court, today, in Missouri v. McNeely refused to grant the State of Missouri a per se rule allowing the warrantless taking of a blood sample to determine the blood alcohol level, in cases of suspected driving under the influence. In a driving under the influence of alcohol case the question that the jury must answer is whether at the time the defendant was driving was she/he under the influence. There are a number of methods of determining whether […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS THE RIGHT OF A RESIDENT TO PREVENT AN OFFICER AND A POLICE DOG FROM ENTERING THE FRONT PORCH

Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled in Florida v. Jardines that a police officer may not enter the area surrounding a house with with a drug sniffing dog in order to obtain probable cause to get a search warrant for the house. Miami-Dade Police Officers Douglas Bartelt and William Pedraja entered the porch in front of Jardine’s residence with a police dog trained to smell marijuana. The dog indicated that there was marijuana in the residence. Based on this information Bartelt […] Read more »

DOJ SUPPORTS PHOTOJOURNALIST IN CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT

Award winning photojournalist, Mannie Garcia, was arrested in Wheaton, Maryland in 2011 and charged with disorderly conduct after he photographed police officers who appeared to be using excessive force in the arrest of two Hispanic men. Not only was he arrested but his camera was seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment which prevented him from publishing possible malpractice by the police officers. He was found innocent and he is now suing the city for violating his civil rights. He […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT DENIES STANDING TO CHALLENGE FISA AMENDMENTS ACT

In Clapper v. Amnesty International, decided by the Supreme Court, last week, Amnesty International and a number of co-defendants challenged Section 50 U. S. C. 1881a of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) as amended by FISA Amendments Act of 2008 on Fourth Amendment grounds. The amendments made it easier for the government to intercept international communications. The court ruled that none of the plaintiffs (Amnesty International et al) which included lawyers journalists and human rights investigators had […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT LIMITS THE DETENTION OF RESIDENTS OF A BUILDING SUBJECT TO A SEARCH WARRANT TO THOSE IN THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY OF THE BUILDING

As I predicted The Supreme Court reviewed and reversed the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Bailey v. United States. The police obtained a search warrant for 103 Lake Drive, Wyandanch, New York. While they were outside the apartment house and before anyone knew of their presence two officers saw Chunon Bailey and Bryant Middleton leave the building, get in a car, and drive away. The officers followed them. They stopped the vehicle approximately a mile away and transferred […] Read more »

U. S. SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS NARCOTICS DOG SEARCH

The United States Supreme Court today ruled today in Florida v. Harris that training records of a police narcotics dog are sufficient for a finding of probable cause to search an automobile. Liberty County Sheriff K–9 Officer William Wheetley stopped a vehicle driven by Clayton Harris because of an expired license tag. He noticed signs consistent with methamphetamine use. Harris refused to give consent to a search of the vehicle. Wheetley brought out Aldo, a trained narcotics dog. Aldo, who […] Read more »

ELEVENTH CIRCUIT DENIES GRANT OF SUMMARY JUDGMENT AGAINST CLAIM OF QUALIFIED IMMUNITY

Miami Beach police received an anonymous tip that drugs were being sold from Janet Feliciano’s apartment. They knocked on her door and entered the apartment, despite her refusal to give consent. They claimed that they could smell marijuana and that they saw her significant other holding a marijuana cigarette. She denied that there was marijuana in the residence and that her significant other was holding a marijuana cigarette. They searched the entire apartment including her lingerie drawer and the pantry. […] Read more »