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Case Law 4 Cops contains information on hundreds of court cases. These cases are important to officers and citizens alike. The cases cover what officers can and cannot do in several areas of law. Follow the links below.

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Cases involving the questioning of suspect  

Major Cases

Cases that had a significant impact on the law

Use of Force

Cases involving police uses of force
Cases involving searches and seizures of persons a property

Juvenile Cases

Cases involving minors   

Civil Cases

Someone famous in Cases where suites were filed against police for civil rights violations

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Zuress v. Newark, No. 19-3945 (6th Cir. 2020)-Zuress was actively resisting arrest and was bitten by a police dog. The dog continued to bite for 24 seconds after she was subdued. She sued claiming excessive use of force. The Court held that the deployment of the dog was justified and that the continued bite for 24 seconds was not an excessive use of force. The fact of the case was that for the 24 seconds the officer was trying to get the dog to release the bite. While the officer was working to get the dog to release his bite, the continued bite was not a "means intentionally applied." Therefore, the continued bite was not a Fourth Amendment violation.


Lange v. California, No. 20-18 (SCOTUS 2021)-A California Highway Patrol Officer tried to stop Lange on traffic using emergency lights for playing loud music and honking his horn. Lange did not stop. He drove to his home and pulled into his garage. The officer followed Lange into his garage. He saw signs of intoxication and arrested him. Lange moved to suppress evidence after the officer entered the garage. The lower court denied the request. Lange appealed to the California Court of Appeal. This court held that Lange could not defeat an arrest begun in a public place by retreating into his home. The pursuit of a suspected misdemeanant, the court held, is always permissible under the exigent-circumstances exception to the warrant requirement.

SCOTUS refused to create a categorical rule allowing the warrantless home entry when a suspected misdemeanant flees the police. The flight of a suspected misdemeanant does not always justify a warrantless entry into a home. An officer must consider all the circumstances in a pursuit case to determine whether there is a law enforcement emergency. On many occasions, the officer will have good reason to enter—to prevent imminent harms of violence, destruction of evidence, or escape from the home. But when the officer has time to get a warrant, he must do so—even though the misdemeanant fled.

SCOTUS held in the case US v. Santana in 1976 that we can pursue a felon into a home without a warrant, but it never established a ruling on pursuing misdemeanants, until now.

Use of Force- Cunningham v. Shelby County Tennessee, No. 20-5375 (6th Cir. 2021)-Deputies responded to a of a suicidal person. The woman told dispatch that she had a .45 cal. gun and would kill anyone that came to her residence. Deputies arrived. The woman walked into the driveway carrying the gun. She raised it up and a deputy shot her. She continued to raise the gun and walk forward. Another deputy fired. 10 shots were fired and 8 struck the woman. She died at the scene. The gun she had was a BB gun. The incident was recorded on a deputy’s dashcam.
The deputies were sued for excessive force. The district court judge denied the deputies’ motion for summary judgment on claims of qualified immunity. The judge analyzed the shooting by reviewing the shooting video frame by frame.
The Circuit Court held that the deputies’ actions were supported by the circumstances and their actions were reasonable. The Court further stated that the district court’s actions of reviewing the video frame by frame violated Graham v. Connor my judging the reasonableness of the use of force based on 20/20 hindsight. The frame-by-frame analysis did not tell the full story considering how quickly the incident occurred. The deputies’ perspective did not include the stop-action viewing of the incident when determining the use of force. The case was reversed and the district court was ordered to grant summary judgment to the deputies.  


US v. Cooley, No. 19-1414 (SCOTUS 2021)-Held: A tribal police officer has authority to detain temporarily and to search non-Indian persons traveling on public rights-of-way running through a reservation for potential violations of state or federal law.
Home Search-

Caniglia v. Strom, 20-157, (SCOTUS, 2021)-Caniglia was taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation for being suicidal. After he was transported, the police entered his home without a warrant or consent to collect the firearms. Caniglia sued. The district court granted summary judgment to the officers. The First Circuit Court heard the case and decided that the officers' removal of the firearms was justified as a "community caretaking exception" to a warrant requirement. The court's justification was based on the case Cady v. Dombrowski. The Supreme Court reversed in a unanimous decision. It held that there was no "community caretaking exception" allowing the warrantless search of a home. The exception in the Cady v. Dombrowski case was limited to a vehicle.

Use of force-

Torres v. Madrid, No. 19-292 (SCOTUS 2021)-Police went to an apartment complex to arrest a woman (not Torres) on a warrant. Police saw Torres and tried to talk with her. She was high on methamphetamines and fled in a vehicle. Police shot Torres, but she escaped. She was caught and arrested the next day at a hospital. She sued for excessive use of force. The district and 10th Circuit courts held that since the officers use of force did not lead to an actual seizure of her, she could not sue. She appealed to SCOTUS. SCOTUS held: The application of physical force to the body of a person with intent to restrain is a seizure even if the person does not submit and is not subdued.


Search Warrant Exceptions

One of the most significant expressions of police power and authority over a citizen is the execution of a search of that citizen’s person or property. The unchecked government intrusion into the personal effects of any citizen was abhorrent to the founding fathers of this country. Because of this, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution was written: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses...

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When Should You Read Someone Their Miranda Rights?

  What are Miranda warnings? The United States Supreme Court in the case of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), established an irrebuttable presumption that a statement is involuntary if made during a custodial interrogation without the "Miranda Warnings" given...

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Can a Passenger Be Detained on a Traffic Stop?

  We in the United States are blessed with the recognition that we can travel freely without government interference. Sooner or later, though, just about everyone that operates a motor vehicle or is a passenger in one will be stopped by a law enforcement officer...

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Law Enforcement and Drivers from Foreign Countries

Law enforcement agencies across this country should review the practices of their officers and their department procedures on handling foreign drivers. As I write, I must clarify that I have not reviewed the state statutes of all the states in regards to operators with foreign licenses. I have, however, read many of them and they are consistent with the points...

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Duty to Take Risks, Not Abuse

Any person that wants to be a police officer must accept the inherent risks that go with the job. At any moment, on any traffic stop or call, anything can happen to a police officer. We proactively seek out offenders committing crimes. We also respond to calls from the citizens of our communities who need us to stand between them and the violent criminals that may pray upon them. We wade into the fray and break up fights and riots...

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The United States Supreme Court described Curtilage in the case US v. Dunn as that area which harbors the "intimate activity associated with the `sanctity of a man's home and the privacies of life.'" Curtilage is the area surrounding a home where occupants have a reasonable, but diminished expectation of privacy from government intrusion...

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