Dist. of Columbia v. Wesby, No. 15-1485 (SCOTUS 2018)-Officers went to a vacant house on a disturbance. They arrived and found numerous people inside having a party. The officers contacted the owner and was advised that no one had permission to be in the house. The officers arrested the partygoers for unlawful entry. Several partygoers sued for false arrest claiming that they did not know they were not allowed in the house. The district court held that the officers did not have probable cause to arrest the partygoers and the officers did not have qualified immunity. The D.C. Circuit affirmed the lower court's decision.
The US Supreme Court reversed holding The panel majority failed to follow two basic and well established principles of law. First, it viewed each fact "in isolation, rather than as a factor in the totality of the circumstances." Second, it believed that it could dismiss outright any circumstances that were "susceptible of innocent explanation.
Johnson v. Peay, No. 16-4160 (10th Cir. 2017)-Johnson led deputies on a high-speed pursuit after a deputy tried to stop her at night for driving without headlights. The pursuit lasted about 30 minutes. The deputies used stop sticks flattening 3 of Johnson's tires. She still did not stop. She finally stopped, turned to face the deputies, and pulled up to their vehicles. She used her vehicle to bump a patrol car. She then turned to bump another. The deputy in the second patrol car bumped dropped out of sight. Another deputy thought he was in danger and shot Johnson seriously injuring her and blinding her in one eye. Johnson sued. The Circuit Court held that the deputy had did not violate her Constitutional rights when he shot her.
US v. Lewis, No. 16-5181 (6th Cir. 2017)-Officers went out on an intoxicated woman at a Walmart. She told them that she came to the store with her boyfriend who was in his truck in the parking lot. The officers went out to the truck to see if the boyfriend was sober and could take her home. The officers arrived at the truck and found the boyfriend asleep. One of the officers opened the vehicle door. The dome light came on and startled the boyfriend awake. He had a clear baggie on his lap. He immediately grabbed the baggie and threw it into the back floorboard. One of the officers opened the back door and looked at the baggie. It contained several pills of Oxycodone and Xanax. The boyfriend was arrested. He tried to get the evidence suppressed. The court held that the officer did not open the door with the intent to investigate a crime, but was engaged in a community caretaking function. Once the officer saw the baggie and the boyfriend’s actions, he had reason to change from the caretaking function to investigating a crime. He had probable cause to open the rear door and further examine the baggie. The search and arrest were lawful.