AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Civil Liability of Law Enforcement Agencies & Personnel
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Search and Seizure: Search Warrants
Monthly Law Journal Article: Civil
Liability for Exceeding the Scope of a Search Warrant, 2010 (1) AELE
Mo. L. J. 101.
Monthly Law Journal Article: Civil Liability and Affidavits for Search Warrants -- Part One, 2010 (4) AELE Mo. L. J. 101.
Monthly Law Journal Article: Civil Liability and Affidavits for Search Warrants -- Part Two, 2010 (5) AELE Mo. L. J. 101.
Monthly Law Journal Article: GPS Devices and the Fourth Amendment, 2010 (12) AELE Mo. L. J. 101
Monthly Law Journal Article: Home Searches and the Community Caretaking Doctrine, 2011 (1) AELE Mo. L. J. 101
Monthly Law Journal Article: No-Knock Home Searches, 2011 (3) AELE Mo. L. J. 101
Monthly Law Journal Article: No Warrant Needed to Search a Cell Phone Found on an Arrestee, 2011 (3) AELE Mo. L. J. 401.
mother of a seven year old girl suffering from brain cancer grew marijuana
plants to extract oil thought to be helpful in treatment. Her father-in-law,
a police officer, knew of this and assisted her, supplying special light
bulbs and periodically checking on the crop. When the girl died, there
were various family disputes about her obituary, who was allowed at the
services, the display of religious symbols, and the disposal of her ashes,
which the father-in-law tried to take. The father-in-law and a fellow officer
then obtained a search warrant for the house based on the father-in-law's
observation of marijuana plants in the home's basement. No such plants
were found during the search, as they had been thrown away after the girl's
death. The girl's mother sued the officers and city for unlawful search,
claiming that there were falsehoods in the affidavit. A federal appeals
court upheld the dismissal of the lawsuit. While it called the father-in-law's
behavior "atrocious," there was no allegation that he knew that
the marijuana plants were gone. An officer's motive in applying for a warrant
does not invalidate a warrant that is supported by probable cause. While
the affidavit was misleading by failing to reveal the father-in-law's relationship
to the mother, candor in revealing it would not have undermined probable
cause. Scherr v. City of Chicago, #13-1992, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 12516
Police did not exceed the scope of the consent a homeowner gave them to be in the basement of his home to look for a possible gas leak when they had to walk through a portion of the basement to access another room. A search warrant subsequently issued was not without probable cause since it was supported by an affidavit with details of the officers' observations of allegedly illegal sawed off shotguns they had seen. There was no evidence of either deliberate falsehood or reckless disregard for the truth in obtaining the search warrant. Officers subsequently had probable cause to arrest the homeowner on state law gun charges, despite the fact that he was later acquitted. Fagnan v. City of Lino Lakes, #12-4038, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 4372 (8th Cir.).
The defendants were not entitled to summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity for alleged Fourth Amendment violations stemming from omissions from an investigator's application for a search warrant for the plaintiff's residence. The two alleged material omissions from the affidavit were the identity of the plaintiff as the resident of the property and the fact that surveillance of the property had not led to any observation of criminal activity. These facts, if known but omitted, would undermine probable cause for the search, altering the weight that would have been given in assessing the information given by a confidential informant and raising a disputed issue of fact. McColley v. County of Rensselaer, #12-2220, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 1124 (2nd Cir.).
Police had a warrant to search one of two apartments on the third floor of the building. Both had rear doors opening on a common landing. Police allegedly used a battering ram to enter the wrong apartment, and entered pointing guns and screaming, handcuffed two occupants and "ransacked" the apartment, only leaving after 15 minutes when another officer told them they were in the wrong apartment. The officers claimed, however, that, while they did open the wrong door, they did not enter, immediately realizing their mistake. An independent claims adjuster and a police review authority employee found no damage except to the door. A jury rejected the plaintiff's claims. A federal appeals court upheld this result, noting that a search that results from an "innocent mistake" is not unreasonable or a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The plaintiff's alternative argument, that simply looking inside the wrong apartment would constitute a search, was rejected. Balthazar v. City of Chicago, #12-3378, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 22744 (7th Cir.).
An officer obtained a no-knock search warrant for a couple's residence based on a woman's call to a city hotline stating that her sister was a felon possessing a gun unlawfully. The caller, however, had not seen her sister or the gun in five years and the officers stated it as five days on the warrant application. He was not entitled to qualified immunity on an unlawful search claim. A reasonable jury could, under these circumstances, find that the officer knowingly or with reckless disregard made false statements in his warrant application. During the search of the residence, the sleeping couple was woken by the no-knock entrance, and the husband was shot twice. Betker v. Gomez, #11–3009, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 18636 (7th Cir.).
In a criminal prosecution, a federal district court found that police officers did not violate the Fourth Amendment by searching a suspect's Facebook page through the consented use of another person's Facebook account, and using the information obtained to provide probable cause for a search warrant. U.S. v. Meregildo, #11-Cr-576, 2012 U.S. Dist. Lexis115085, 2012 WL 3264501 (S.D.N.Y.).
Newspapers had no First Amendment right to obtain access to sealed court documents used in connection with the issuance of a search warrant as part of an investigation into financial fraud. There was no historical record of unrestricted public access to documents filed in search warrant proceedings. Further, granting public access to such documents would be detrimental to the search warrant application and process of criminal investigation, particularly when the magistrate sufficiently stated the justification for sealing the documents. In re: In the Matter of the Search of Fair Finance, #10-4139, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 18627, 2012 Fed. App. 0304P (6th Cir.).
A police officer made reasonable efforts to obtain a search warrant for a residence based on information from a gang informant, and the warrant was supported by probable cause. Because of the existence of multiple living units in what was mistakenly believed to be a single family residence, however, and the failure of the warrant to specify which unit to search, officers entered a unit occupied by someone other than the suspect, a woman who was over seven months pregnant. The officers, from the fact that they first found the front of the bottom floor occupied by an office, and saw that they could not get to the rest of the building from there, should have realized that the building was not a single family residence. They could see that there were separate doors for first and second floor apartments, and should have called off the search, the court reasoned. Instead, they searched for an hour before acknowledging that they were in the wrong place. The search violated the woman's Fourth Amendment rights, and the trial court improperly granted summary judgment dismissing her unlawful search claims. Guzman v. City of Chicago, # 08-2172, 565 F.3d 393 (7th Cir. 2012).
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that officers were entitled to qualified immunity and could not be held personally liable for obtaining a potentially invalid overly broad warrant when they could reasonably have believed that the warrant's scope was supported by probable cause. In this case, any arguable defect in the warrant would have become apparent only based on a close examination of the warrant application and comparison of the supporting affidavit to the warrant's terms to determine whether the affidavit sufficiently established probable cause to search for all items listed in the warrant. In this case, a shotgun was confiscated while executing a search of a home under a warrant for "all guns and gang-related material." The "fact that a neutral magistrate has issued a warrant is the clearest indication that the officers acted in an objectively reasonable manner." The Court concluded that the "officers' judgment that the scope of the warrant was supported by probable cause may have been mistaken, but it was not 'plainly incompetent.'" Messerschmidt v. Millender, #10-704, 2012 U.S. Lexis 1687.
A police detective sought and obtained search warrants for the homes of several gang members, based on information that the gang was involved in a drive-by shooting and had a practice of storing the weapons from such shootings at the residences of members not involved in an incident. The affidavit for one of the warrants, however, failed to disclose that the gang member living there had been in custody continuously since a time prior to the shooting taking place. A jury could reasonably conclude that the detective knew about this fact from reading the member's rap sheet and recklessly or deliberately failed to disclose it when applying for the warrant. The detective could be liable for the search. Additionally, even "if we were to conclude that cause existed for a search, there would still be no basis for authorizing night-time service. A nighttime incursion by a SWAT force is a far more serious occurrence than an ordinary daytime intrusion . . . and therefore requires higher justification beyond mere probable cause to search." Bravo v. City of Santa Maria, #09-55898, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 24383 (9th Cir.).
A man arrested for burglary told an officer that his alleged accomplice had a girlfriend at whose apartment the stolen goods from 18 burglaries had been stored. After an officer obtained a search warrant and used it to seize various items at her apartment, the girlfriend sued, claiming that the warrant affidavit was insufficient to provide probable cause. The defendant officer was entitled to qualified immunity on the issue of whether the affidavit sufficiently provided probable cause, as there was no evidence that a reasonable officer would have noticed the alleged discrepancies, such as the fact that only four of the categories of property described to be seized could be linked to the two burglaries described in the warrant. He was not entitled to qualified immunity, however, on claims that items were seized that were not described with sufficient detail in the warrant. Some items described were common household items, giving the officer no ability to distinguish between allegedly stole goods and other goods belonging to the girlfriend. As an example of this, the warrant authorized the seizure of cameras without specifying the makes or models of the stolen cameras, although these details were easily available in the reports on the burglaries. The court stated that it simply requires "additional details, if they are available, to help distinguish between contraband and legally possessed property." Wheeler v. City of Lansing, #10-1128/, 660 F.3d 931 (6th Cir. 2011).
Even if it was true that a teacher inappropriately touched a child's breasts while lifting her up in class, this was not enough to justify an officer's obtaining of a search warrant for child pornography in the teacher' home. The officer had no evidence of the teacher's possession or attempted possession of child pornography, or use of home computers to access such materials, so the search of the home and seizure of computers was not supported by probable cause. The officer was still entitled to qualified immunity from liability, however, due to a lack of clear precedent on the issue. Dougherty v. City of Covina, #09-56395, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 16879 (9th Cir.).
A man claimed that officers unlawfully exceeded the scope of their search warrant when they searched his residence. A federal appeals court rejected this claim, finding that a neutral magistrate judge reviewed the affidavits supporting the warrant and properly found probable cause, and that there was no evidence that the scope of the search permitted under the warrant was exceeded. Grimes v. Thomason, #10-10760, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 4782 (Unpub. 5th Cir.).
A man being prosecuted for armed bank robbery was granted a motion to suppress a sample of his DNA to compare with DNA found in a van believed to have been used by the robber, on the ground that it had been obtained by way of a materially and recklessly false warrant affidavit, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. A paragraph in the affidavit was false, as it misrepresented that police interviews of "various witnesses" had observed a stolen van meeting up with a silver Volkswagen van following the robbery. The officer writing the affidavit had not participated in interviewing the witnesses or read the written witness statements, and did not review the investigation reports in any detail. The officer's drafting of the affidavit went beyond simple negligence into recklessness, as it could be said that he had no evidentiary basis at all for making the statement concerning the van. U.S. v. Brown, #09-3643, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 1059 (3rd Cir.).
A group of officers, including a SWAT team, gathered one evening to execute a no-knock search warrant at a residence believed to be the site of a marijuana growing operation. They used a ram to break down the door, aggressively yelled as they entered, and forcibly removed a female resident from the couch, placing her roughly on the floor. Her husband was tackled from behind, handcuffed, placed in leg restraints, and tasered. He also claimed that he was repeatedly punched and kicked at various times. No evidence of drugs was found, although the officers allegedly ransacked the home, smashed holes in walls, smashed two doors, and "ate some candy and drank a bottle of soda found in one of the bedrooms." The homeowners also claimed they lost several pets because of the officers' actions, and that they suffered damage to a dresser, a backyard fence, a waterbed, and a rocker/recliner. They sued for unreasonable execution of the search warrant and excessive use of force, as well as lack of probable cause for the search. The defendants moved for summary judgment, and while they asked for qualified immunity, their papers only discussed, in any detail, the probable cause and excessive force claims, making no mention of the claim for unreasonable execution of the warrant. The trial court therefore denied summary judgment on the unreasonable execution claim. A federal appeals court held that this denial was not immediately appealable, as it did not rule on the issue of qualified immunity on that claim, but simply denied summary judgment. Peay v. Murphy, #09-4198, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 20038 (Unpub. 10th Cir.).
A federal appeals court upheld a $100,000 damage award to a plaintiff suing for unlawful search of his residence, finding that the search warrant utilized was based on an affidavit lacking in probable cause. It mentioned no specific crimes thought to have probably been committed, made no link between the residence to be searched and any crime, and sought broad authority to search for any documents pertaining to the plaintiff. This was so lacking in any indicia of probable cause as to render any belief in its legality unreasonable. Ellison v. Balinski, #09-2033, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 23409 (6th Cir.).
A homeowner claimed that police unlawfully searched his home and seized marijuana plants found there without probable cause, doing so by misleading a magistrate into issuing a search warrant for the premises. This was allegedly accomplished by misstating the plaintiff's criminal history. Rejecting this argument, and upholding summary judgment for the state trooper who obtained the search warrant, a federal appeals court held that even if the plaintiff's criminal history was misrepresented in the affidavit for the search warrant, the other information in the affidavit sufficed to supply probable cause since there was information from the DEA that the plaintiff had received marijuana cultivation products shipments, and the trooper himself stated that he found marijuana cigarette remnants in the plaintiff's trash in close proximity to items of his mail, Parkey v. Sample, #09-3966, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 22113 (6th Cir.).
A plaintiff sued an officer who drafted an affidavit used to obtain a warrant used to search his property, claiming that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated. A federal appeals court, in rejecting this claim, noted that to survive summary judgment in a federal civil rights lawsuit, a claim for judicial deception in the obtaining of a search warrant must establish that the officer engaged in deliberate falsehood or reckless disregard for the truth in the affidavit, and show that, but for this dishonesty, the search warrant would not have established probable cause. As the plaintiff failed, in this case, to show that the officer deliberately or recklessly made false statements or omissions in his affidavit that were material to the finding of probable cause, the officer was entitled to qualified immunity. Littlefair v. Gosner, #09-35806, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 19264 (Unpub. 9th Cir.).
A federal appeals court found that officers who executed a search warrant on a residence were not entitled to qualified immunity from unreasonable search and seizure claims by the residents, as portions of the warrant were “so lacking in indicia of probable cause as to render official belief in its existence unreasonable." Among other things, the warrant authorized a search and seizure of all firearms, firearms-related materials, and "gang-related materials," which was found to be unconstitutionally overbroad, in violation of the Fourth Amendment's specificity requirement for search warrants. Millender v. County of L.A., #07-55518, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 17673 (9th Cir.).
In a lawsuit by a married couple challenging the validity of a search warrant used to search their residence, which uncovered evidence leading to the subsequent arrest and prosecution of the husband, a federal appeals court ruled that the warrant was facially valid, and based on an affidavit that established probable cause for its issuance. Additionally, the affidavit described with sufficient detail both the place to be searched and the things to be seized. All those participating in the search, with only the possible exception of the officer writing the affidavit, were entitled to rely on this facially valid warrant. As to the officer writing the affidavit, his failure to sign it was unintentional and unknown to him when the search warrant was issued. Such innocent or negligent mistakes did not show a constitutional violation. Fleming v. Barber, #09-11743, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 12500 (Unpub. 11th Cir.).
Officers searched an attorney's law office and residence using a warrant, hoping to find stolen laptop computers and controlled substances. The plaintiff argued, in her subsequent civil rights lawsuit against the county sheriff, that the affidavit for the warrant was so clearly lacking in probable cause that the only real issue should be the amount of damages to be awarded. The appeals court stated that it was "difficult to conclude" that generalized statements about the plaintiff's alleged wrongdoing established a "substantial" basis for the search. But it also concluded that, even if the warrant lacked probable cause, that did not necessarily mean that the defendant was personally liable for damages for the search. The affidavit contained very general statements obtained from a known thief and cocaine user who claimed to have paid the attorney for legal services with a stolen laptop, and that the attorney used drugs. The affidavit for the warrant was far from ideal, but there were still a few indicia of reliability so that an officer could reasonably believe that there was probable cause. A reasonably trained officer would not be required to second guess the judge who authorized the warrant, as it was not that clearly lacking in probable cause. The defendant was therefore entitled to qualified immunity. Junkert v. Massey, #09-2908, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 12614 (7th Cir.).
The highest court in New York has ruled that under state law police cannot use general search warrants that are issued for a specific location to search "all persons present" unless there is probable cause to believe that a particular person is involved in a crime. The ruling, which was unanimous, appears to end what reportedly was a frequent practice in the state. The court ruled in a case involving a search warrant used in a drug raid on a home, and found that the mandate in the warrant to search "all persons present" did not suffice to justify the strip search of a man found on the premises. The court ordered the dismissal of drug charges that were lodged against him following the search. The court also commented that even if the warrant had sufficed to give the police probable cause to search the man, the strip search, under these circumstances, was so intrusive that it violated both the U.S. and New York Constitutions. People v. Mothersell, #43, 2010 N.Y. Lexis 59.
Plaintiffs whose home was searched pursuant to a warrant argued that the warrant was improperly obtained, that it lacked particularity, and that chukka sticks seized during the search were not covered by the plain view principle. The appeals court rejected these arguments, finding that the warrant provided the basis for a search of the entire premises for cocaine, cash, drug paraphernalia, books, and records. These materials could have been contained in a coat closet, so that the chukka sticks were properly found there. Since possession of chukka sticks is unlawful under N.Y. law, they were correctly seized when observed in plain view, leading to the plaintiffs' arrest. Sostre v. County of Suffolk, #09-1835, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 2433 (Unpub. 2nd Cir.)
A married couple and their two children sued a city and one of its detectives for unlawful search, failure to "knock and announce," and excessive force. The detective, while searching for suspects in a stabbing, received information from a confidential information in which the names of a suspect and his mother were similar to the husband and wife's names. He used this information to obtain a search warrant for the plaintiffs' residence. The search was carried out by a SWAT team and a K-9 unit, who entered the home with drawn weapons. All four residents were "rounded up," but the officers then realized that they were in the wrong house. A federal appeals court found that there was sufficient evidence from which a jury could find that the search warrant was not supported by probable cause and that the detective had made representations about the location of the suspect that were either knowingly false or made with reckless disregard of the truth. As for the "knock and announce" and excessive force claims, the method with which the search had been carried out was not objectively unreasonable. Walker v. City of Wilmington, #08-4218, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 853 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
Although an affidavit for a search warrant had two possibly deceptive misrepresentations, they were not "critical" for a finding of probable cause. An identification of the wife in the home in connection with a murder was sufficiently reliable and established probable cause. Additionally, there was no requirement that the affidavit establish probable cause to arrest her for the murder. It was sufficient that it established probable cause for the search. The officers were also entitled to qualified immunity for the subsequent arrests, since they relied, in good faith, on legal advice from a prosecutor in making the arrests of the residents of the home. Anonymous tips received, which claimed that someone else had committed the murder, were insufficient to eliminate probable cause. Ewing v. City of Stockton, #08-15732, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 26799 (9th Cir.).
A police officer in Louisiana claimed that he was in charge of a center distributing supplies during Hurricane Katrina. He further argued that political animus a police chief had towards him was the reason that an illegal search of his residence was carried out and he was falsely arrested for purported theft of supplies. The officer sufficiently alleged that a detective, in applying for search and arrest warrants, both made false statements and omitted material information from the affidavits. Further discovery was ordered to determine if a police officer who entered the plaintiff's property and reported seeing allegedly stolen supplies was entitled to qualified immunity, because of conflicting versions as to his purposes for entering. Nothing more than "speculation," however, supported the claim that the police department's chief of investigations approved the filing of false affidavits, and there was also insufficient detail to support a claim that the police chief was personally involved in directing the filing of the affidavits. Claims against the city were properly dismissed in the absence of a showing that anyone acted pursuant to a municipal policy or custom. Floyd v. City of Kenner, #08-30637, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 23913 (5th Cir.).
The plaintiff claimed that the officer who executed search warrants for two apartments purportedly rented by him falsely stated that he received a phone call from a confidential informant to the effect that the plaintiff had moved his personal possessions from one apartment to the other. An appeals court addressing illegal search and seizure claims noted that the plaintiff based his assertions of fact on the officer's cell phone records, while the call at issue was made to the officer's office phone. The officer's statements in support of a warrant application regarding the purported receipt of the phone call was not so inconsistent with police reports as to create a material issue of fact. The prisoner argued that the officer failed to produce his office phone records, but he failed to pursue the records' release before the trial court's grant of summary judgment against him. Dukes v. City of Minneapolis; #07-2531, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 16844 (Unpub. 8th Cir.).
A homeowner claimed that police officers entered his home armed with a search warrant issued because of an officer's false statements, that two of the officers knew that the statements were false when they participated in the search, and that officers used excessive force while doing so. Dismissing federal civil rights claims against supervisory police officials, a federal court found that, even if the facts of the search were as stated, there was no evidence from which the supervisory officials could be held liable. There was evidence, for instance, that a police superintendent undertook "numerous" actions to investigate and remedy police conduct he had become aware of, and that the police commander took steps to make sure all officers received civil rights training. Cruz-Acevedo v. Toledo-Davila, #07-1844, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 92018 (D.P.R.).
Summary judgment for police officers was upheld in a lawsuit over their search of a home pursuant to a search warrant, and the arrest of the occupants for contributing to a minor's delinquency. The plaintiffs failed to show that any of the statements in the affidavit for the search warrant constituted intentional or reckless misrepresentations or omissions, and there was probable cause for the warrant. Suarez v. Town of Ogden Dunes, #08-2544, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 20322 (7th Cir.).
A sheriff was told that a farmer had some marijuana plants inside a Quonset hut on his property. Officers then searched the farm after obtaining a warrant. The farmer sued, claim illegal search and seizure. A federal appeals court held that the sheriff was not entitled to qualified immunity from liability. "Because the warrant permits a general search and seizure of 'all other evidence of criminal activity,' we hold it was a general warrant prohibited by the Fourth Amendment." The fact that the affidavit for the warrant was incorporated into the warrant by reference, the court stated, did not save the warrant's validity, since the officers only possessed probable cause to conduct a search for evidence concerning the cultivation of marijuana, but the warrant purported to authorize the seizure of any possible evidence of any crime in any jurisdiction. The court reasoned that the warrant authorized exactly the type of "rummaging" through the farmer's belongings seeking evidence of possibly unsuspected prior crimes, or of no crime at all, which it said the Fourth Amendment was intended to prevent. Cassady v. Goering, #07-1092, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 11736 (10th Cir.).
Two deputies reasonably relied on a search warrant approved by a prosecutor and a judge in making a nighttime search of a home during their investigation of an alleged assault by the homeowner's foster son. There was evidence to indicate that the son was at the home, and, even if the warrant was arguably overbroad with respect to evidence concerning gang membership and firearms, the deputies were entitled to qualified immunity in that they could reasonably rely on those who approved the warrant to limit its scope to items for which probable cause was shown. Millender v. County of Los Angeles, #07-55518, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 9735 (9th Cir.).
While the issuance of a search warrant was valid, since it was supported by information supplied by an informant and corroborated by police, officers should have called off the search of the residence at the beginning when they realized that the building did not fit the warrant's description of a single family home, but instead had various units, including a real estate office. The warrant did not specify which unit was to be searched. Officers were not entitled to qualified immunity in a lawsuit asserting that they performed an unreasonable search of a woman's home and then placed her under arrest after a search of the wrong address of a third person who was the actual subject of the warrant. Guzman v. City of Chicago, #08-2172, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 10177 (7th Cir.).
A federal trial court found that a homeowner and her son made a "substantial" showing that an officer lied in his affidavit seeking a search warrant for their home by saying that he found mail addressed to the residence in garbage bags. The son swore that he and his mother shredded any documents that showed their address. However, the affidavit for the search warrant, even lacking the statements about the mail, still showed probable case, based on the officer's statement concerning an anonymous tip of drug activity in the home, and his subsequent investigation, which observed heavy foot traffic there and found marijuana residue in the garbage bags. The officer, therefore, was given qualified immunity on claims related to the validity of the warrant. Further proceedings were ordered, however, on whether officers executing the search warrant failed to knock and announce their presence before entering. Cotton v. Sassak, #2:06-cv-15208, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 25480 (E.D. Mich.).
An officer acted in an objectively reasonable manner in seeking to obtain a search warrant for a home following a shooting. He heard the shooting victims identify two assailants and gathered evidence identifying them and linking them to a residence and to the victim's roommate. Additionally, both the victim and his roommate identified one of the residents of the home from a photo array as a participant in the crime. General allegations that the officer, in his warrant application, engaged in the deliberate hiding of material and exculpatory information did not suffice to show that the warrant was lacking in probable cause. There was no indication that the officer had any personal stake in the case or that he acted in any way other than as an impartial investigator. There was also no evidence that the warrant affidavit included deliberate falsehoods, or that the officer engaged in reckless disregard of the truth. Morris v. Lanpher; #08-2040, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 8687 (8th Cir.).
A worker's compensation enforcement officer was entitled to qualified immunity for his actions in searching the plaintiff's insurance business office and seizing files pursuant to a search warrant. While the warrant itself failed to identify the place to search or the items to be seized, the attached affidavit, which was incorporated into the warrant did do so. The officer failed to leave the affidavit with the warrant due to certain confidential information stated in it, leading to the suppression, at the plaintiff's criminal trial, of the evidence seized. Despite this, the law concerning this was not clearly established at the time of the search, since the suppression of the evidence was based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision subsequently decided, so the officer's actions were arguably lawful at the time of the search. Battle v. Webb, No. 08-12696, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 22823 (Unpub. 11th Cir.). Note: The U.S. Supreme Court case at issue was Groh v. Ramirez, #02-811, 540 U.S. 551 (2004), on the basis of which the state trial court ruled, in the criminal case, that the failure to leave a copy of the affidavit with the defendant at the time of the search rendered the search and seizure illegal. The search at issue took place in 2001.
When an apartment resident claimed that a search warrant obtained for her home was negligently requested by an officer based on factual inconsistencies and unreliable information, she failed to show a constitutional violation, which requires intentional or reckless disregard for the truth rather than negligence or an innocent mistake. The plaintiff did not show that the affidavit for the warrant contained false material information. Andreen v. Lanier, Civil Action No. 08-cv-0810, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 86720 (D.D.C.).
Materials which a newsletter publisher mailed to town officials adequately supported an application for a search warrant because it included a clearly pornographic picture. This was sufficient to establish probable cause for a violation of a state harassment statute and for commission of a breach of the peace. Accordingly, the search warrant was supported by probable cause, even if the officials were motivated, in seeking the warrant, to silence or deter the publisher's criticism of the police department in his newsletter. The publisher also failed to show that this attempt to silence or deter him, if that was the motive, was successful. Smolicz v. Borough/Town of Naugatuck, No. 06-5439, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 12503 (Unpub. 2nd Cir.).
When homeowners lived in a small house which had a security door which was difficult to breach, officers could properly be found by a jury not to have acted unreasonably in forcing the door open while executing a search warrant when they received no response within five to eight seconds of knocking on the door and announcing their police presence. The issue of whether the officers acted unreasonably was for the jury, and they could have found the officers to have acted unreasonably, but did not do so. Howell v. Polk, No. 06-16418, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 15037 (9th Cir.).
While a district attorney who reviewed and approved an affidavit for a search warrant for a student's residence was only entitled to qualified, rather than absolute immunity, since she was not acting in her prosecutorial role at the time, the plaintiff student failed to show that a reasonable prosecutor should have known that the professor he was accused of defaming in an online journal was a public figure, that the statements made involved a matter of public concern, and that the statements were not made with the actual malice which was then required for the student to be subject to criminal prosecution under a Colorado state libel statute. The prosecutor was therefore entitled to qualified immunity. The lawsuit was dismissed, and the prosecutor was also awarded costs. Mink v. Knox, Civil Case No. 04-cv-00023, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 46193 (D. Colo.).
Hotel guests faced criminal charges on the basis of evidence found by an officer during a warrant-based search of their room. The charges were dropped, however, after the trial court suppressed the evidence, finding that the search was unlawful. The plaintiffs then sued the city and the state drug enforcement officer who conducted the search. A federal appeals court ruled that the suppression of the evidence by the court in the criminal case was not binding in the civil rights case as to whether the officer had probable cause for the search of the hotel room, and further found that, under the totality of the circumstances, there had been probable cause for the search. Summary judgment was therefore upheld for the officer, although on a different basis than had been used in the trial court's reasoning, which had held that the plaintiffs failed to show that they suffered any damages because of the search. Cox v. Pate, No. 07-1635, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 12747 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
A search warrant presented to the occupant of a building was not invalid simply because the copy shown to him lacked the signature of the issuing judge. The court found that the original of the warrant was properly signed and issued, and was supported by probable cause. The court also found that it was legitimate for officers to detain the building occupant while conducting their search, which was occasioned by his employment of a suspect, even though the search did not involve a quest to find contraband. The court also rejected the occupant's argument that excessive force, which injured his wrists, was used in handcuffing him and detaining him in a squad car during the search. Housley v. City of Edina, No. 07-1330, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 3799 (8th Cir.).
During a criminal investigation concerning the removal and disposal of an underground gasoline storage tank, a search warrant was obtained for a premises, and, during the search, materials not listed in the warrant were found. A second warrant for the premises was then obtained and executed. Subsequently, criminal charges against the suspects were dropped. In a lawsuit for unlawful search and seizure, the court found that those involved in the first search were entitled to qualified immunity because they could rely on the magistrate's determination of probable cause, and a review of the warrant by two prosecutors. The second warrant, however, was found to "obviously" lack probable cause, since it was based on the prior discovery of several checks and a ledger that were dated five years prior to the alleged fraudulent acts being investigated, which were plainly insufficient to provide probable cause. An investigator, therefore, was not entitled to qualified immunity on that second search. KRL v. Estate of Moore, No. 06-16282, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 880 (9th Cir.).
A DEA agent who was alleged to have intentionally misled a federal magistrate into issuing a warrant to search the residence of a man subsequently arrested and prosecuted on a drug offense was entitled to summary judgment in the arrestee's federal civil rights lawsuit. The cocaine found during the search was the basis for a criminal conviction on possession of the drug with intent to distribute it, and the claim that the information in the affidavit for the warrant was "stale" or that the DEA agent made material misrepresentations to obtain the warrant had already been rejected in a decision upholding the conviction. Baxter v Crawford, No. 06-15375, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 11935 (11th Cir.).
Plaintiff in lawsuit over the alleged unlawful search of a woman's apartment pursuant to a warrant was not entitled to an order compelling the city and officers who obtained the warrant to reveal the identity of the confidential information whose information was used to provide probable cause for the warrant. The plaintiff failed to show how the identity of the informant had anything to do with whether it was illegal to have sought to obtain a search warrant, arrest the plaintiff and search her apartment based on the information they had. Guzman v. City of Chicago, No. 05C6617, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 28377 (N.D. Ill.).
Officer was not entitled to summary judgment in property owner's lawsuit alleging that he obtained a search warrant for his house by use of an affidavit containing false information. While an informant allegedly told officers that there were stolen goods in a white shed near the plaintiff's home, the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant stated that the informant told the police that the stolen goods were in the house. The plaintiff claimed that this false information was used in the affidavit on purpose in order to provide an opportunity to search his house for drugs without probable cause to do so. The trial judge found that there was evidence that the officer had an "ulterior motive" for searching the plaintiff's house for drugs, as indicated by the fact that the search of the house continued for two hours after the stolen property sought was found in the shed. Durfee v. Rich, No. 02-10041, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 23340 (E.D. Mich.).
Search of residential premises pursuant to search warrant was proper, despite the suspect's claim that the warrant was obtained through "judicial deception" by falsely calling a government witness a "confidential informant." The court found that even if that description was inaccurate, the plaintiff did not show that the warrant would not have been issued in its absence. Further proceedings were ordered, however, on Montana state law right to privacy claims. Nickel v. Woods, No. No. 05-35592, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 7482 (9th Cir.).
Trial court found that search warrant for residence was overly broad. A jury then awarded $3,000 in actual damages and $3,500 in punitive damages against a sheriff for damage to the plaintiff's property. The trial judge found that there was adequate evidence to support the jury's conclusion that the sheriff should be liable for property damage, but that a deputy should not, as he did not cause the damage. The court also found that the jury, in arriving at the figure of $6,500 in damages, appeared to have arrived at a "compromise" verdict that was not consistent with the evidence, entitling the plaintiff to a new trial against the sheriff. Cassady v. Goering, No. 03-cv-01008, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 11175 (D. Colo.)
Affidavit for search warrant for apartment provided adequate probable cause to believe that evidence of drug-related crime would be found there, and made it reasonable for officers to believe that a risk of the destruction of evidence justified execution of the search warrant at night. Occupant could not assert her claim that the officers who searched her apartment failed to "knock and announce" before they entered, when she conceded that she was asleep when the officers entered. Taylor v. City of Detroit, No. 05-CV-70489, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 4587 (E.D. Mich.). [N/R]
Federal appeals court reinstates lawsuit against police officers for obtaining a search warrant and carrying out a search, based on allegations that they did so in bad faith, and knew that the supporting statements presented were misleading and false. Schindler v. French, No. 05-4174, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 941 (2nd Cir.). [N/R]
Even if the 8 paragraphs that a homeowner challenged in an 11-page, 38-paragraph affidavit for a search warrant for his residence were false, the remainder of the affidavit was adequate to supply probable cause for the issuance of the search warrant. Accordingly, the homeowner's Fourth Amendment rights were not violated and the FBI agent who filed the affidavit to obtain the warrant was entitled to qualified immunity. Haire v. Thomas, 06-12428, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 27608 (11th Cir.). [N/R]
Even though a search warrant for a home did not describe the property to be seized, a reasonable officer could have believed that it was sufficient because of its reference to an attached affidavit which did mention the evidence sought. Accordingly, the officers were entitled to qualified immunity. Officers were not constitutionally required to serve the search warrant on the resident before beginning the search. Finally, while the warrant authorized the search to take place any time between 6 and 10 a.m., the officers' minor deviation from this, in beginning the search at 5:50 a.m. did not violate the resident's constitutional rights. Rivera Rodriguez v. Beninato, No. 05-2748, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 28141 (1st Cir.). [N/R]
Affidavit for warrant for the seizure of a suspect's DNA in an investigation seeking a serial killer and rapist was not supported by probable cause. Anonymous tips which were not corroborated were insufficient to provide probable cause, as were a 20-year-old burglary conviction and the fact that the suspect was unemployed. Other information allegedly relied on by the detective who submitted the affidavit to the judge, such as an FBI profile of the man sought, was irrelevant, since it was not provided to the judge. Kohler v. Englade, No. 05-30541, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 28841 (5th Cir.). [N/R]
Search warrant for arrestees' residence was supported by probable cause based on undercover officer's statements that he twice bought cocaine from persons who, after receiving money for the drugs, entered the residence and later returned with the narcotics. Urbanique Production v. City of Montgomery, No. Civ.A.2:03CV1150, 428 F. Supp. 2d 1193 (M.D. Ala. 2006). [N/R]
Officers could not be held liable for unlawful search and seizure when they conducted their search of a residence on the basis of a facially valid search warrant. Overholt v. Montville Township, No. 05-3118, 169 Fed. App. 447 (6th Cir. 2006). [N/R]
Officers' actions in confining tenants during the search of their apartment under a warrant which did not state which of two apartments on the second floor should be searched was "privileged," barring their false imprisonment claim against the city. Paulemond v. City of New York, 812 N.Y.S.2d (Sup. App. Term 2006). [N/R]
Officers' initial entry into garage apartment adjacent to home being searched under warrant for drugs was a reasonable mistake, but genuine factual issues as to whether they acted reasonably in continuing the search there and detaining the occupants for approximately an hour and a half required further proceedings. Harman v. Pollock, No. 04-4294, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 10886 (10th Cir.). [2006 LR Jun]
Police detective who mistakenly, but reasonably, entered the wrong college dorm room while executing a search warrant during a drug raid was entitled to qualified immunity in student's lawsuit asserting federal and Maryland state claims for unreasonable search and seizure, unreasonable detention, and excessive use of force. Mazuz v. State of MD, No. 05-1463, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 7660 (4th Cir.). [2006 LR May]
Search of woman's second floor apartment under a search warrant intended for the third floor apartment of a male suspected of drug dealing was not a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights when the entrance to the third floor was a doorway on the second floor, and the suspect, arrested on the sidewalk outside while selling drugs, told officers he lived on the second floor. Walker v. Bonenberger, No. 04-3955, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 4522 (8th Cir.). [2006 LR Apr]
Inspection of two boardinghouses for rat infestation by public health personnel accompanied by police was supported by probable cause based on warrant issued after information was received concerning the buildings' filthy conditions. Detention of all occupants of the buildings during the inspections was reasonable and carried out in a reasonable manner and for legitimate purposes. Dawson v. City of Seattle, No. 03-35858, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 1663 (9th Cir.). [2006 LR Mar]
While a search of a business, under a search warrant, to search for documents concerning ownership of computers, which were not evidence of crime, violated the rights of the business owners, officers who obtained and executed the warrant were entitled to qualified immunity from liability. They consulted with a prosecutor who told them to go ahead and reviewed the affidavit and warrant, and a judge issued the warrant. Under these circumstances, their actions were reasonable, even if mistaken. Armstrong v. City of Melvindale, No. 04-2192, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 251 (6th Cir.). [2006 LR Feb]
Police detective violated a couple's clearly established constitutional rights by entering their apartment to execute a search warrant when he knew that the warrant was ambiguous as to which of two apartments on the second floor of a building was to be searched. The detective acted improperly in resolving the ambiguity on his own, rather than seeking clarification from the magistrate who issued the warrant. Jones v. Wilhelm, No. 04-1261, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 21386 (7th Cir.). [2005 LR Nov]
Federal appeals court overturns jury verdict of over $2 million, finding that exigent circumstances justified police officers' no-knock entry in home pursuant to search warrant. Doran v. Eckold, No. 03-1810, 409 F.3d 958 (8th Cir. 2005). [2005 LR Aug]
Even if there were falsehoods in the anonymous tip received by a state trooper which was, in part, the basis for the issuance of a search warrant for the home, the warrant was lawfully obtained and any falsehoods were moot. The trooper obtained probable cause for the issuance of a warrant when he observed marijuana plants on the doorsteps of the home and boards over the windows. Edens v. Kennedy, No. 03-2108, 112 Fed. Appx. 870 (4th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Police officer's alleged pat-down search of protest organization's office manager during execution of a search warrant was unreasonable when carried out without any individualized reasonable suspicion that he was involved in criminal activity or possessed weapons. In light of the fact that the warrant was not for weapons or contraband, but rather for protest documents and photographs, it did not justify generalized detention and pat-down of all those present in the absence of such reasonable suspicion. Denver Justice Comm. v. City of Golden, No. 03-1470, 405 F.3d 923 (10th Cir. 2005). [2005 LR Jul]
Police officers and sheriff's deputy were not entitled to qualified immunity for allegedly seizing "truckloads" of personal property while executing search warrant at residence for the sole purpose of supporting sentencing enhancement in a pending case by proving that the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club was a gang, or for shooting two dogs at the residence. San Jose Charter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club v. City of San Jose, No. 02-16329, 402 F.3d 962 (9th Cir. 2005). [2005 LR Jun]
Officers were not entitled to qualified immunity on their alleged use of excessive force while executing a search warrant on the home of a dentist and his wife based on suspicion of growing marijuana, when there was no belief that the home's occupants were armed or would resist or flee. Appeals court finds that, if alleged lies by deputy were removed from affidavit for warrant, there would be nothing left justifying its the issuance. Baldwin v. Placer County, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 6626 (9th Cir.). [2005 LR Jun]
Officers could not have reasonably believed that supervising officers were not violating arrestee's civil rights during execution of no-knock search warrant on home in allegedly conducting invasive body cavity searches of two women in front of male officers and visual body cavity searches of three men, or by allegedly physically assaulting persons present during the search without provocation. Defendants were not, therefore, entitled to qualified immunity. Officer who allegedly misled the magistrate into issuing the warrant by omitting material facts was also not entitled to qualified immunity. Bolden v. Village of Monticello, No. 04 CIV.1372, 344 F. Supp. 2d 407 (S.D.N.Y. 2004). [N/R]
Search warrant used to search warehouse for machine guns was defective in failing to specify items to be searched for and seized, so federal agents were not entitled to qualified immunity on civil rights lawsuit by operator of warehouse and owner of stored firearms. Warrant's reference to sealed affidavit in court file which contained those details and did not accompany warrant during search was insufficient to correct defect. Federal appeals court allows civil rights lawsuit to go forward despite upheld criminal conviction of importer of machine guns. Baranski v. Unknown ATF Agents, No. 03-5582, 401 F.3d 419 (6th Cir. 2005). [2005 LR May]
U.S. Supreme Court: Police officers did not act unreasonably in detaining an occupant of a home in handcuffs during the execution of a search warrant, and they also did not violate her rights by questioning her, during the detention, concerning her immigration status. Muehler v. Mena, #03-1423, 125 S. Ct. 1465 (2005). [2005 LR May]
Deputy sheriff's failure to include 13-month-old and 17-month-old reports of prior investigations in affidavit for search warrant for farm on probable cause of animal mistreatment did not show intentional or reckless misleading of the magistrate. The old reports, on which no charges had been issued, were "stale" and not altogether exculpatory. Further, the old reports did not negate a finding of current probable cause based on the sworn statements of five separate complainants, and the deputy's own investigation. Officers who executed the warrant were entitled to qualified immunity on seizing farmer's daughter after she attempted to lock herself in the farmhouse bathroom, since they had a security reason--the presence of weapons--for gathering all occupants outside the house as soon as possible. The house would not be secure until she was removed. Spafford v. Romanowsky, No. 02 Civ. 6348, 348 F. Supp. 2d 40 (S.D.N.Y. 2004). [N/R]
Police officers who searched home of suspects pursuant to search warrant after purchasing VHS videotapes and Nintendo games suspected to be stolen from them in an on-line auction did not violate the Fourth Amendment. Seizure of DVDs, non-Nintendo videogames, and other related materials not specified in the warrant was proper under the plain view doctrine. Russell v. Harms, No. 04-2065 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 1636 (7th Cir. February 02, 2005). [2005 LR Mar]
Officer who swore out affidavit for search warrant for apartment was entitled to qualified immunity when woman's statements that she had observed illegal prescription drug sales there were included. The mere fact that she was intoxicated, and had been involved in a domestic dispute with the resident did not alter the result. Hale v. Kart, No. 03-1793, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 599 (6th Cir. 2005). [2005 LR Feb]
Prosecutors who approved allegedly facially invalid post-indictment search warrant of indictee's property were not entitled to absolute immunity from liability to the extent that the warrant sought to obtain evidence of crimes not charged in the indictment, but were entitled to qualified immunity to the extent the warrant was aimed at obtaining evidence to prosecute the pending charges. District attorney was entitled to qualified immunity, however, on approval of allegedly overbroad search warrant, because it was not so lacking in indications of probable cause as to make a belief in probable cause unreasonable. KRL v. Moore, No. 02-15296, 384 F.3d 1106 (9th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Oklahoma state law enforcement officers and state could not be held liable for search of business under warrant seeking evidence of drug trafficking. Probable cause for the warrant existed when search warrant affidavit stated that law enforcement agent personally purchased a product containing a controlled substance at the business premises. Employee of business who was allegedly misidentified as the business owner in statements to the press by a law enforcement agent could not recover damages for defamation when the statement was made on the basis of state tax records and any misrepresentation was unintentional. Tanique, Inc. v. Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, No. 99,091, 99 P.3d 1209 (Okla. Civ. App. Div. 2 2004). [N/R]
Officers did not exceed the scope of a search warrant for evidence of drug crime by seizing photographs, personal papers, jewelry, doorknobs and locks, when the warrant authorized seizure of "any other instruments of the crime." Dearmon v. Burgess, No. 01-3096, 388 F.3d 609 (8th Cir. 2004). [2005 LR Jan]
Search warrant issued on the basis of an affidavit which did not establish a link between criminal activity and the residence to be searched or even that the address was the residence of the suspect was so lacking in probable cause as to make reliance on it objectively unreasonable. Mills v. City of Barbourville, No. 02-6404, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 23753 (6th Cir. 2004). [2005 LR Jan]
Occupants of a home mistakenly identified in a search warrant and subjected to a no-knock search by members of a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team presented an arguable issue as to whether the city's policies or lack of policies concerning the issuance of no-knock search warrants caused a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights. Because of the "hyper-intrusive" nature of such searches, the court comments, the government should show more than the standard requirement of probable cause to obtain such a warrant. At the same time, the court rejected the argument that the city was required to demand that the officer in charge of an investigation personally provide visual verification of the address in a search warrant, finding that a policy of allowing such verification by other officers was reasonable. Solis v. City of Columbus, No. 2:02-CV-788, 319 F. Supp. 2d 797 (S.D. Ohio 2004).[N/R]
Search warrant for a residence which authorized a search of "all persons" present for drugs was not adequately supported by detailed information to support probable cause to believe that all occupants of the premises were involved in criminal activity. Officers who carried out the search pursuant to the warrant, and who strip-searched or pat-searched four adults and two minors in the home, were entitled to qualified immunity because the law on the issue was not clearly established at the time of the search. Owens Ex Rel. Owens v. Lott, No. 03-1194, 372 F.3d 267 (4th Cir. 2004). [2004 LR Nov]
Federal appeals court rules that the use of civilians to assist police officers in executing a search warrant did not violate the Fourth Amendment, even though a "better practice" would have been to have the magistrate issuing the warrant explicitly authorize their assistance. Officer acted reasonably in asking company security officer and supervisor to assist him in searching for computer chips, equipment, and other allegedly stolen material that he believed he did not have the necessary technical expertise to identify himself. Bellville v. Town of Northboro, #03-1510, 375 F.3d 26 (1st Cir. 2004). [2004 LR Oct]
Search warrant for a journalist's home, obtained in order to find videos and three still photographs concerning the terrorist bombing nine years earlier of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, was overbroad in violation of the Fourth Amendment, since it authorized the seizure of "virtually every" piece of computer equipment, every computer file or document, and other things in the home which could not contain the photographs or videos sought, including letters. Additionally, the warrant was not supported by probable cause because the information on which it was based was "stale," consisting of statements by a third party who told law enforcement officers that he had seen the photos and video six years before, and at a location other than the journalist's home. The journalist was not accused of any crime and had stated, before the warrant issued, that the material in question had been turned over by him to Congress. Journalist was entitled to summary judgment on his Fourth Amendment claim that the officers lacked probable cause to search his home, and the officers who obtained the warrant were not entitled to qualified immunity. Arkansas Chronicle v. Easley, 321 F. Supp. 2d 776 (E.D. Va. 2004). [N/R]
Students whose homes were searched and who were arrested for allegedly plotting an armed attack on their school failed to show that information allegedly intentionally omitted from affidavit in support of search warrant, had it been included, would have negated the existence of probable cause for the searches. The information which was allegedly omitted was not material. Additionally, the fact that an informant whose statements were relied on had prior juvenile convictions and had used drugs while with the five high school students who allegedly plotted the armed attack did not render the information he provided unreliable. Smith v. Barber, 316 F. Supp. 2d 992 (D. Kan. 2004). [N/R]
Officers were not entitled to qualified immunity for going beyond the scope of a search warrant by searching a mother and her ten-year-old daughter while executing a warrant for narcotics at their home. Doe v. Groody, #02-4532, 361 F.3d 232 (3d Cir. 2004). [2004 LR Jun]
U.S. Supreme Court finds that a search warrant which failed to describe the items to be seized during the search of a Montana ranch was "presumptively invalid," and that a federal agent who applied for the warrant and then led the raid executing it was not entitled to qualified immunity from liability, as the requirement in the Fourth Amendment that a warrant describe with particularity the "persons or things to be seized" is clearly stated. Groh v. Ramirez, #02-811, 124 S. Ct. 1284 (2004). [2004 LR May]
Police officers did not act in an unreasonable manner by continuing to search apartment after they allegedly realized that the apartment's inclusion in the search warrant might have been in error and that the suspect who was the target of the search possibly did not live there. Officers could reasonably believe that the warrant still gave them authority to conduct the search, since it was issued based on a belief that the targeted suspect controlled the apartment. Duarte v. Robards, No. 02-56563, 86 Fed. Appx. 270 (9th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
Warrants for the search of a residence were not supported by probable cause when the affidavit provided no basis to support the belief that evidence of crime would be found there and broadly sought "every conceivable kind of document" relating to the residents' personal and business financial activities. Affidavit submitted was used to obtain warrants for a total of 16 locations, with only the particular location or person to be searched altered in the last section. Officers were not entitled to qualified immunity for conducting search, as no reasonable officer would have believed that the affidavit provided probable cause. Officers who were not involved in the search, however, but were present, were entitled to qualified immunity in detaining a resident during the execution of the warrant, since they could have reasonably believed that their actions were lawful. Williams v. County of Santa Barbara, 272 F. Supp. 2d 995 (C.D.Cal. 2003). [N/R]
Search warrant for search of home was valid, even if it did not have the magistrate's signature on it. The Fourth Amendment also did not require that the warrant name the person from whom the things sought would be seized, when it did name the place to be searched and what was being searched for. Sadlowski v. Benoit, No. 02-1365, 62 Fed. Appx. 3 (1st Cir. 2003). [N/R]
Federal agents did not violate the Fourth Amendment by conducting a search of a warehouse for machineguns under a warrant in which the description of the guns to be found and seized was contained in an affidavit which the court had ordered sealed. Agents left the warehouse owner a copy of the warrant, but not the affidavit, but did furnish a list of the guns seized, and the guns seized did not go beyond the scope of the description in the affidavit. Additionally, even if this action were found to violate the Fourth Amendment, the agents were entitled to qualified immunity under the circumstances because they could reasonably believe that the warrant, issued by the magistrate who ordered the affidavit sealed, was valid. Baranski v. Fifteen Unknown Agents of ATF, No. 3:01CV-398-H, 252 F. Supp. 2d 401 (W.D. Ky. 2003). [N/R]
Officer was not required to express his concern to a judge issuing a search warrant for the search of a home in a drug activity investigation when there was no evidence that any doubts he had about the informant's information were serious. Failure to acknowledge, in affidavit for the warrant, that the informant had given different numbers regarding the amount of cocaine he allegedly distributed for the suspect did not eliminate probable cause for the warrant. Molina Ex Rel. Molina v. Cooper, #02-1995, 325 F.3d 963 (7th Cir. 2003). [2003 LR Jul]
There was probable cause for a warrant to search a nursing student's residence for evidence of dispensing drugs, including a confidential informant procuring drugs from the suspect during a "sting operation," so that officers' alleged withholding of exculpatory evidence from search warrant affidavit did not violate her Fourth Amendment rights. DeFelice v. Ingrassia, 210 F. Supp. 2d 88 (D. Conn. 2002).[N/R]
An officer’s failure to disclose in a search warrant application the presence of “For Sale” and “Sold” signs on the target property constituted a material omission. Although the signs on their own may not have established dispositively that the house belonged to new owners, they would have “put a reasonable magistrate on notice that a change in occupancy would be occurring in the near future.” Liston v. County of Riverside, 120 F.3d 965. (9th Cir. 1997).
307:111 Officer was not entitled to qualified immunity defense in lawsuit brought over arrest caused by search warrant when his affidavit for warrant was "totally devoid" of factual assertions which were sufficient to provide probable cause. Bauder v. Gentile, 697 So.2d 1222 (Fla. App. 1997).
280:62 Officer who made false statements in affidavit for search warrant was not entitled to qualified immunity from liability when affidavit, absent false statements, would not have provided probable cause for issuance of warrant; intergovernmental narcotics enforcement task force could not be sued under federal civil rights statute when it was an intergovernmental association rather than separate legal entity Hervey v. Estes, 65 F.3d 784 (9th Cir. 1995).
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