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Devenpeck v. Alford

Docket No.: 03-710
Certiorari Granted: Apr 19 2004
Argued: November 8, 2004
Decided: December 13, 2004

Topics:

Amendment 4: Fourth Amendment, Criminal Procedure, Search and Seizure, Armed Career Criminal Act, EPA, Fifth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Privacy Act, Sixth Amendment, habeas, habeas corpus, probable cause, qualified immunity, searches and seizures

PartyNames: Gerald Devenpeck, et al. v. Jerome Anthony Alford
Petitioner: Gerald Devenpeck, et al.
Respondent: Jerome Anthony Alford

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Citation: 333 F3d 972
Supreme Court Docket

Gerald Devenpeck, et al.
v.
Jerome Anthony Alford
543 U.S. 146 (2004)
Background:

Under the Fourth Amendment's objective reasonableness test, an arrest is deemed "reasonable" if there is probable cause to believe that a violation of law has occurred. Two judicial circuits find an arrest reasonable if, based on an objective assessment by a reasonable officer, there is probable cause to arrest for any offense. On the other hand, at least five judicial circuits find an arrest to be reasonable only if there is probable cause to arrest for crimes "closely related" to the crime or crimes articulated by the arresting officer. This case presents the following questions:

Question Presented:

1. Does an arrest violate the Fourth Amendment when a police officer has probable cause to make an arrest for one offense, if that offense is not closely related to the offense articulated by the officer at the time of the arrest? 2. For the purpose of qualified immunity, was the law clearly established when there was a split in the circuits regarding the application of the "closely related offense doctrine", the Ninth Circuit had no controlling authority applying the doctrine, and Washington state law did not apply the doctrine?

Question:

(1) Does an arrest violate the Fourth Amendment when a police officer has probable cause to make an arrest for one offense, if that offense is not closely related to the offense articulated by the officer at the time of the arrest? (2) For the purposes of qualified immunity, was "closely related offense doctrine" clearly established given that different circuit courts disagreed on its application?

Devenpeck v. Alford
ORAL ARGUMENT

November 8, 2004

Holding: reversed and remanded
Decision: Decision: 8 votes for Devenpeck, 0 vote(s) against
Vote: 8-0
Recused: Chief Justice Robert
Opinion By: Justice Antonin Scalia

Devenpeck v. Alford
Case Documents

1Opinion in Devenpeck v. Alford
2Slip Opinion in Devenpeck v. Alford
3Opinion in Devenpeck v. Alford
Additional documents for this case are pending review.