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MESSERSCHMIDT v. MILLENDER

Docket No.: 10-704
Certiorari Granted: 06/27/11
Argued: December 5, 2011
Decided: 02/22/12

Topics:

Fourth Amendment, Fourth Amendment, absolute immunity, murder, privacy, probable cause, qualified immunity, search and seizure

PartyNames: Curt Messerschmidt, et al. v. Brenda Millender, as Executor of the Estate of Augusta Millender, Deceased, et al.
Petitioner: Curt Messerschmidt, et al.
Respondent: Brenda Millender, as Executor of the Estate of Augusta Millender, Deceased, et al.

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Citation: 620 F.3d 1016

Curt Messerschmidt, et al.
v.
Brenda Millender, as Executor of the Estate of Augusta Millender, Deceased, et al.
Background:

This Court has held that police officers who procure and execute warrants later determined invalid are entitled to qualified immunity, and evidence obtained should not be suppressed, so long as the warrant is not "so lacking in indicia of probable cause as to render official belief in its existence entirely unreasonable." United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 920, 923 (1984); Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335,341,344-45 (1986). The Questions Presented are:

Question Presented:

1. Under these standards, are officers entitled to qualified immunity where they obtained a facially valid warrant to search for firearms, firearm-related materials, and gang-related items in the residence of a gang member and felon who had threatened to kill his girlfriend and fired a sawed-off shotgun at her, and a district attorney approved the application, no factually on-point case law prohibited the search, and the alleged overbreadth in the warrant did not ex-pand the scope of the search? 2. Should the Malley/Leon standards be reconsidered or clarified in light of lower courts' inability to apply them in accordance with their purpose of deterring police misconduct, resulting in imposition of liability on officers for good faith conduct and improper exclusion of evidence in criminal cases?

Question:

Are police officers entitled to qualified immunity when they obtain a valid warrant to search for firearms, firearm-related materials, and gang-related items in the residence of a gang member and felon who had threatened to kill his girlfriend and fired a sawed-off shotgun at her?

Note:

This Court has held that police officers who procure and execute warrants later determined invalid are entitled to qualified immunity, and evidence obtained should not be suppressed, so long as the warrant is not "so lacking in indicia of probable cause as to render official belief in its existence entirely unreasonable." United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 920, 923 (1984); Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335,341,344-45 (1986). The Questions Presented are: 1. Under these standards, are officers entitled to qualified immunity where they obtained a facially valid warrant to search for firearms, firearm-related materials, and gang-related items in the residence of a gang member and felon who had threatened to kill his girlfriend and fired a sawed-off shotgun at her, and a district attorney approved the application, no factually on-point case law prohibited the search, and the alleged overbreadth in the warrant did not ex-pand the scope of the search? 2. Should the Malley/Leon standards be reconsidered or clarified in light of lower courts' inability to apply them in accordance with their purpose of deterring police misconduct, resulting in imposition of liability on officers for good faith conduct and improper exclusion of evidence in criminal cases?

MESSERSCHMIDT v. MILLENDER
ORAL ARGUMENT

12/05/11

Listen to Oral Argument in MESSERSCHMIDT v. MILLENDER
Holding: REVERSED
Decision: Decision: 6 votes for Messerschmidt, 3 vote(s) against
Vote: 6-3
Majority: Chief Justice Roberts,Scalia,Kennedy,Thomas,Breyer,Alito
Concurring: Breyer,Kagan
Dissenting: Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsburg
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