Fourth Amendment

Pearson v. Callahan

Issues 

1. Whether police officers’ warrantless entry into a suspect’s home violates the Fourth Amendment, where the confidential informant, who was invited into the suspect’s home, established probable cause and signaled the officers to enter and make an arrest?

2. Does case law from other jurisdiction upholding such entries allow the police officers to assert a qualified immunity defense?

3. Should the Supreme Court overrule its decision in Saucier v. Katz, where it formulated a two-pronged test for determining whether qualified immunity applies?

top

 

The Utah police, without obtaining a warrant, arrested Afton Callahan and searched his home after Callahan was caught selling methamphetamine to a confidential informant. Callahan brought a civil suit alleging that the officers violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from warrantless and unreasonable searches. The officers assert that Callahan waived his privacy right when he invited a confidential informant into his home because he assumed the risk that the informant would divulge illegal activity to the police. They also argue that the “consent once removed” doctrine allows a warrantless search once a confidential informant is invited into the home and establishes probable cause. In the alternative, the officers raise a “qualified immunity” defense, which protects government officials from liability where a constitutional right is not clearly established and they could reasonably believe their conduct is constitutional. Callahan claims that the officers’ reasoning is unfounded; inviting the confidential informant into his home does not mean that officers can subsequently enter and search his home without a warrant. Furthermore, the consent once removed doctrine, as applied to confidential informants, has not been accepted by the Supreme Court or the Tenth Circuit. In this case, the Supreme Court will decide whether the officers violated the Fourth Amendment; whether they are entitled to the qualified immunity; and whether the two-pronged qualified immunity test as articulated in Saucier v. Katz, should be overruled.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

1. Several lower courts have recognized a “consent once removed” exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement. Does this exception authorize police officers to enter a home without a warrant immediately after an undercover informant buys drugs inside (as the Sixth and Seventh Circuits have held), or does the warrantless entry in such circumstances violate the Fourth Amendment (as the Tenth Circuit held below)?

2. Did the Tenth Circuit properly deny qualified immunity when the only decisions directly on point had all upheld similar warrantless entries?

3. In addition to the questions presented by the petition, the Parties are directed to brief and argue the following question: “Whether the court's decision in Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194 (2001) should be overruled?”

On March 19, 2002, Brian Bartholomew entered the home of Afton Callahan under the pretense of wanting to purchase methamphetamine. In reality, Bartholomew was a confidential informant working with the Central Utah Narcotics Task Force (“Task Force”) to catch Callahan dealing narcotics. After arming him with a microphone, a transmitter, and a marked $100 bill, the officers took Bartholomew to Callahan’s home to make the purchase. Upon arrival, Callahan’s daughter invited Bartholomew into the home, and Bartholomew purchased a gram of methamphetamine with the marked bill. A

Edited by 

Acknowledgments 

Submit for publication 

0

United States v. Microsoft Corp.

Issues 

When served with a warrant under the Stored Communications Act, is an email service provider obligated to disclose communication information that they control but store outside of the United States?

This case asks the Court to decide whether an email service provider must comply with a warrant issued pursuant to the Stored Communications Act to disclose communication information if they exercise control over the information but physically store it outside the United States. This case implicates the presumption against application of U.S. law outside of U.S. borders, as well as the true focus of section 2703 of the Stored Communications Act. The Government argues that the focus of the statute is “disclosure” and the relevant conduct occurs in the U.S., and therefore the information must be disclosed. Microsoft argues that the focus is “privacy” and the relevant conduct occurs outside the U.S., and therefore outside the reach of the statute. This decision could impact international cooperation and comity due to potential conflict-of-laws issues, as well as other nations’ willingness to do business with U.S.-based carriers.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

Whether a United States provider of email services must comply with a probable-cause-based warrant issued under 18 U.S.C. § 2703 by making disclosure in the United States of electronic communications within that provider's control, even if the provider has decided to store that material abroad.

Microsoft Corporation (“Microsoft”) is a United States corporation incorporated and headquartered in Washington state. Microsoft Corp. v. United States, 829 F.3d 197, 202. Microsoft operates a web-based email service, known as “Outlook.com,” that allows customers to send and receive correspondence with other email accounts.

Edited by 

Acknowledgments 

The authors would like to thank Cornell Law School Professor James Grimmelmann for his insights into this case.

Additional Resources 

Submit for publication 

0

Collins v. Virginia

Issues 

Under the Fourth Amendment, does the automobile exception allow a police officer to search a motorcycle parked near a house on private property without a warrant?

Court below: 

This case, in which a police officer searched a stolen motorcycle on private property without a warrant, encapsulates a battle between two conflicting Fourth Amendment doctrines. Collins, arrested for receiving stolen property, argues that the police are forbidden from conducting a warrantless search of the area surrounding his home—the curtilage, which receives the same special constitutional protections as the home itself. Collins maintains that allowing the police to search his curtilage erodes Fourth Amendment rights and eliminates an important constitutional constraint on searches. Virginia counters that the officer’s search was justified by the automobile exception because, people have lowered expectations of privacy in their automobiles, which are heavily regulated property. Furthermore, as automobiles can be quickly moved out of a warrant’s jurisdiction, Virginia contends that requiring the police to wait for a warrant is impractical and would impede police investigations. How the Court decides on the constitutionality of the search will determine whether the automobile exception applies to vehicles on private property, or if that exception is superseded by the protections of curtilage.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

Whether the Fourth Amendment’s automobile exception permits a police officer, uninvited and without a warrant, to enter private property, approach a house and search a vehicle parked a few feet from the house.

In June and July 2013, Albemarle County police officers twice recorded a distinctive black and orange motorcycle eluding police pursuit by traveling significantly over the speed limit. Collins v. Commonwealth, 790 S.E.2d 611, 612–13 (Va. 2016). The police car video camera photographed the motorcycle’s license plates and driver. Id. at 613.

Edited by 

Acknowledgments 

Additional Resources 

Submit for publication 

0

Byrd v. United States

Issues 

Does a driver in sole possession of a rental car and with the renter’s permission to operate the car, but not included as a driver on the rental agreement, have a reasonable expectation of privacy that is entitled to constitutional protection?

Terrence Byrd was pulled over by a Pennsylvania police officer for violating a state driving law. Eventually, the officer and another police officer discovered that Byrd was driving a rental car but was not a named driver on the rental agreement. Moreover, the officers also discovered that Byrd had a criminal record that included drug, weapon, and assault charges. Ultimately, the officers asked Byrd for permission to search the car, which they assert that Byrd granted, and, the officers found both heroin and illegal body armor in the car. Byrd challenged the stop and search arguing that it was unlawful. The District Court held that the stop and search was lawful. On appeal, the Third Circuit further recognized that the driver of a rental car who is not listed on the rental agreement did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The Supreme Court will likely resolve the Circuit conflict regarding whether a reasonable expectation of privacy exists for a driver in sole possession of a rental vehicle that is not listed as a driver on the rental agreement.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

The Fourth Amendment protects people from suspicionless searches of places and effects in which they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Does a driver in sole possession of a rental vehicle reasonably expect privacy in the vehicle where he has the renter’s permission to drive the vehicle but is not listed as an authorized driver on the rental agreement?

In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a state police officer pulled petitioner Terrence Byrd over for violating a state driving law. United States v. Byrd at 2. The police officer, eventually accompanied by another officer, found that Byrd was driving a rental car but that Byrd’s name was not on the rental agreement. Id. at 3.

Edited by 

Acknowledgments 

Additional Resources 

Submit for publication 

0

Carpenter v. United States

Issues 

 Can law enforcement acquire historical cell site location data without a warrant?  

In 2011, Petitioner Timothy Carpenter was arrested on suspicion of participating in a string of armed robberies in and around Detroit. In the course of the investigation, FBI agents acquired transactional records from Carpenter’s cell phone carrier. The government sought this data pursuant to the Stored Communications Act, which allows law enforcement to obtain communications records by demonstrating “specific and articulable facts” that the records are relevant to an ongoing investigation, rather than probable cause that a crime has been committed. The trial court denied Carpenter’s motion to suppress the records, and a jury convicted him of firearms violations and violations of the Hobbs Act. On appeal, Carpenter maintained that the acquisition of his cellular data without a warrant violated his Fourth Amendment rights, but the Sixth Circuit held that such a seizure did not constitute a “search” under the Fourth Amendment. Carpenter now challenges this classification of cell site data, arguing that the seizure of such data does constitute a search, and that the data is distinct from phone and bank records, which have not been afforded Fourth Amendment protection. This case could have significant consequences for the government’s ability to collect data that reveals a cell phone user’s location.  

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

Whether the warrantless seizure and search of historical cell phone records revealing the location and movements of a cell phone user over the course of 127 days is permitted by the Fourth Amendment. 

In April 2011, police arrested four men suspected of committing multiple armed robberies at Radio Shack and T-Mobile stores in Detroit and its surrounding suburbs. United States v. Carpenter, 819 F.3d 880, 884 (Sixth Circuit 2016). One of the men confessed to FBI agents, telling them that over a four-month period the group had robbed nine stores in Michigan and Ohio.

Edited by 

Acknowledgments 

Submit for publication 

0

District of Columbia v. Wesby

Issues 

What is the scope of probable cause for trespass under the Fourth Amendment, and was this law so clearly established prior to the arrests involved as to entitle the police officers to qualified immunity?  

The Supreme Court will decide whether a police officer has probable cause to arrest a suspect for trespassing under the Fourth Amendment when the owner of a house says that the suspects do not have authority to enter and the officers find circumstantial evidence of trespass, but the suspects claim that they thought that they had authority to be there. Additionally, the Court will decide whether, if the officers did not have probable cause to arrest the suspects in this case, the law of probable cause for trespass was unclear enough to entitle the officers to qualified immunity. Petitioners District of Columbia, et al. argue that an officer, in order to be able to make timely probable cause determinations, should not be required to exactly determine the criminal intent of a suspect; at the very least, the District of Columbia argues, officers should not be required to rely on a suspect’s claims of an innocent mental state. The District of Columbia also argues that the law was not “clearly established” in this area and so the officers were entitled to qualified immunity. Respondents Theodore Wesby, et al. argue that the officers did not have probable cause to arrest the suspects for trespassing because the suspects indicated that they thought that they had permission to be in the home and, thus, the officers are not entitled to qualified immunity. This case will address the scope of the probable cause standard for trespass claims under the Fourth Amendment and will clarify the standard for qualified immunity.  

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

Police officers found late-night partiers inside a vacant home belonging to someone else. After giving conflicting stories for their presence, some partiers claimed they had been invited by a different person who was not there. The lawful owner told the officers, however, that he had not authorized entry by anyone. The officers arrested the partiers for trespassing. The questions presented are:

  1. Whether the officers had probable cause to arrest under the Fourth Amendment, and in particular whether, when the owner of a vacant home informs police that he has not authorized entry, an officer assessing probable cause to arrest those inside for trespassing may discredit the suspects’ questionable claims of an innocent mental state.
  2. Whether, even if there was no probable cause to arrest the apparent trespassers, the officers were entitled to qualified immunity because the law was not clearly established in this regard.

Early in the morning on March 16, 2008, Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”) officers responded to a complaint of illegal activity occurring in a vacant house. See Wesby v. District of Columbia, 765 F.3d 13 at 3–4 (D.C. Cir. 2014). When the officers entered the house, they saw “scantily-clad” women who they believed were “stripping” for other guests of the party.

Edited by 

Acknowledgments 

Additional Resources 

Submit for publication 

0

Civil Forfeiture

Overview

Civil forfeiture occurs when the government seizes property under suspicion of its involvement in illegal activity. Such a proceeding is conducted in rem, or against the property itself, rather than in personam, or against the owner of the property; by contrast, criminal forfeiture is an in personam proceeding. For this reason, civil forfeiture case names often appear strange, such as United States v. Eight Rhodesian Stone Statues,

Kentucky v. King

Issues 

In emergency circumstances, police may enter and search a private residence without a warrant. Does this exception apply when police create the emergency circumstances through their own lawful action, such as knocking on a door?

Court below: 

 

While pursuing a known drug felon, police officers smelled burning marijuana emanating from behind a closed apartment door. After knocking and announcing themselves, the police heard shuffling within the apartment. Believing that valuable evidence was being destroyed inside, they entered the apartment, found a variety of drugs and drug paraphernalia and arrested Respondent Hollis Deshaun King. King claims that this entry and search violated his Fourth Amendment rights because there was no exigent circumstance which permitted the officers to enter his apartment without a warrant. The Commonwealth of Kentucky asserts that the smell of burning marijuana, in addition to the sounds of shuffling and movement within the apartment, validated the police's warrantless entry. To decide this case, the Supreme Court will have to weigh privacy interests against the need for police officers to safely and effectively perform their duties.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

When does lawful police action impermissibly "create" exigent circumstances which preclude warrantless entry; and which of the five tests currently being used by the United States Courts of Appeals is proper to determine when impermissibly created exigent circumstances exist?

In October 2005, the police of Lexington-Fayette Urban County, Kentucky performed a “buy bust” operation in which a confidential informant attempted to buy crack cocaine from a suspected drug dealer. See King v. Kentucky, 302 S.W.3d 649, 651 (Ky.

Edited by 

Acknowledgments 

Submit for publication 

0

County of Los Angeles v. Mendez

Issues 

Does a police officer violate the Fourth Amendment when the officer uses reasonable force in response to a hazardous situation the officer created, and does an injured individual’s actions that give rise to the need for use of force constitute an intervening, superseding event that severs the causal relationship between the police officers’ conduct and the individual’s injuries?

In this case, the Supreme Court will decide whether a police officer’s conduct leading up to her use of force against a citizen is relevant to the inquiry of whether that force was reasonable, and if so, what the limits are on holding that officer liable. The deputies of the County of Los Angeles argue that no liability should attach to their decision to open fire on Angel and Jennifer Mendez, because they were responding to the Mendezes’ threatening behavior. The Mendezes argue that the deputies provoked their threatening behavior, so they should be liable for opening fire on the Mendezes. The parties disagree as to whether the Ninth Circuit’s provocation rule, which would hold the deputies liable under the Fourth Amendment, conforms to Supreme Court precedent. A win for the deputies could promote police officer safety and help preserve the integrity of the qualified immunity doctrine by keeping standards of behavior clear. A win for the Mendezes could preserve the balance of protections for police officers and citizens and provide better incentives for officer reasonableness during every stage of an investigation.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

  1. The Ninth Circuit’s provocation rule holds officers liable under the Fourth Amendment for objectively reasonable force, vitiates qualified-immunity protections, and permits tort liability in the absence of proximate cause. Should this Court reject the provocation rule and continue to analyze police use of force under the established legal framework set out in Graham?
  2. The Court of Appeals held alternatively that the Deputies were liable for the shooting “under basic notions of proximate cause.” Did the court err in holding that the failure to secure a warrant proximately caused the shooting, particularly where the Deputies shot in reasonable self-defense after one of the Plain-tiffs pointed a gun at them and the outcome would not have changed if the Deputies had a warrant?

On October 1, 2010, a group of police officers and deputies were searching for a wanted parolee in a California neighborhood. See Mendez v. Cty. Of Los Angeles, 815 F.3d 1178, 1184–85 (9th Cir. 2016); Brief for Petitioners, County of Los Angeles et al.

Edited by 

Acknowledgments 

Additional Resources 

Submit for publication 

0

Hudson v. Michigan

Issues 

The Supreme Court will resolve conflicting circuit court decisions regarding whether or not evidence is subject to suppression when seized by officials violating the Fourth Amendment “knock-and-announce” rule. If the evidence discovered through a knock-and-announce violation would have been discovered even if the violation had not occurred, then should the evidence be admissible?

 

According to the Fourth Amendment knock-and-announce rule, when police officers enter a person’s home, they must make their presence known to the occupants and wait a reasonable amount of time before entering. The courts are split as to whether a knock-and-announce violation makes evidence found after the violation excludable. Evidence which the officers would have inevitably discovered, however, is not normally excluded by courts. In Hudson v. Michigan (04-1360), Petitioner Hudson contends that the police’s knock-and-announce violation produced evidence resulting from an unreasonable entry under the Fourth Amendment and should, therefore, be suppressed.  Respondent  in this case, the state of Michigan, has two arguments at its disposal. First, they can argue that the police would have inevitably discovered the evidence regardless of the rule, and thus the evidence is not excludable because of the inevitable discovery doctrine exception. Second, they can argue that there is no causation between the entry violation and the seizure, meaning that the evidence is not the fruit of the Fourth Amendment violation and hence should not be excluded. Respondent further argues that excluding reliable evidence because of a mistake in the timing of entry would be unjustly harsh and produce an undue burden on society. The Supreme Court’s resolution of the current circuit court split will have powerful effects on law enforcement and the continued efficacy of the knock-and-announce rule

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

Does the inevitable discovery doctrine create a per se exception to the exclusionary rule for evidence seized after a Fourth Amendment “knock and announce” violation, as the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court have held, or is evidence subject to suppression after such violations, as the 6th and 8th Circuits, the Arkansas Supreme Court and the Maryland Court of Appeals have held?

On August 27, 1998, seven police officers went to Petitioner Booker T. Hudson’s (“Hudson”) Detroit, Michigan home to execute a search warrant. Hudson, Booker v. Michigan, 2005, Medill School of Journalism, at<http://docket.medill.northwestern.edu/archives/002753.php>. Before entering Hudson’s home, the officers announced their presence and, according to one of the officers present, waited three to five seconds before forcibly entering Hudson’s home. Hudson, Booker v.

Acknowledgments 

Additional Resources 

Submit for publication 

0

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Fourth Amendment