List of pending and/or recent Cases

where AELE has filed an amicus brief


Decided cases:

2011 – Supreme Court: Kentucky v. King. AELE, joined by the IACP and NSA, urged the Court to adopt an objective reasonableness standard for warrantless entries into premises predicated on exigent circumstances. The brief stressed that officers need clear guidance and a uniform rule for training and operational purposes -- and for their safety when confronting dangerous offenders. Read the AELE brief.

The Court, in an 8-1 holding, overturned the Kentucky Supreme Court.

2009 – Supreme Court: Arizona v. Johnson. AELE, joined by national and state associations, had asked the Supreme Court to overturn an Arizona decision that impairs officer safety during traffic stops. The lower court majority held that “when an officer initiates an investigative encounter with a passenger that was consensual and wholly unconnected to the original purpose of the routine traffic stop of the driver, that officer may not conduct a Terry frisk of the passenger without reasonable cause to believe ‘criminal activity may be afoot.’” Click here to see the Arizona decision, and here to read our amicus brief. A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Arizona decision, ruling that a lawful investigatory stop exists when it is lawful for officers to stop a vehicle and its occupants to inquire into a vehicular violation, that officers do not have to have reason to believe that an occupant is involved in a crime, but must have reasonable suspicion that the person to be frisked may be armed and dangerous. Click here to read the opinion.

2009 – Supreme Court: Arizona v. Gant. AELE, joined by the IACP & NSA, asked the Supreme Court to overturn an Arizona ruling that had invalided the search of a vehicle because the driver had been handcuffed and placed in the rear of a patrol car. Click here to see the Arizona decision, and here to read our amicus brief. In a 5-to-4 holding, the Arizona decision was upheld. There was one concurring and two dissenting opinions. Click here to read the opinions.

2006 – Supreme Court: Samson v. California. AELE, joined by the IACP and NSA, asked the Court to affirm the conviction of a parolee who was searched by a police officer. As condition of parole, California inmates agree to be subject to search by a parole or police officer at any time of the night or day, with or without a search warrant and with or without cause. View our amicus brief and the decision of the lower court. The U.S. Supreme Court, by a 6-to-3 majority, held that the Fourth Amendment does not bar a police officer from conducting a suspicionless search of a parolee. To read the Court’s opinion, click here.


2006 – Supreme Court: Brigham City v. Stuart. AELE, joined by the IACP and NSA, asked the Court to rule that the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit law enforcement officers who witness an ongoing physical altercation in a home from entering the residence to prevent bodily harm, and that the amendment does not require officers to wait passively for violence to escalate to a point at which severe harm might occur. View our amicus brief, the opinion of the Utah Supreme Court, and the unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision.


2005 – Supreme Court: Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales. AELE joined a brief of black and women police officers supporting a civil rights suit brought against the Town for the lack of police response to a mother’s complaint that her estranged husband had the children, was in violation of a court order, and that harm might occur. We supported the IACP’s Model Domestic Violence Policy and disagreed with the Town that they owed no legal duty to protect the children or to enforce the court order.  View the amicus brief and the appendix, which contains the IACP Model Policy. The appellate court decision supported the mother’s claim. To read the 7-2 decision reversing the Tenth Circuit, click here.


2004 – Second Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals: St. of New York v. Tanella. At the request of the DEA, AELE and the IACP filed an amicus brief supporting the dismissal of manslaughter charges against a federal agent who fatally shot a resisting suspect. In our brief, we show how it is possible to shoot a suspect in self-defense, when the bullet enters the suspect’s back. View the AELE-IACP brief, the lower court decision, and the prosecution’s brief. The appeals court found that the agent was immune from state prosecution under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. It also found that the agent honestly believed his life to be in danger at the time of the shooting and that his belief was objectively reasonable.  To read the Second Circuit’s decision, click here.


2003 Term – Supreme Court: U.S. v. Banks; view brief. Issue: Whether a 15-20 second wait was sufficient before officers forced open a door to serve a drugs search warrant. To read the Court’s opinion, click here.