Lee Davis: Supreme Court Decides Case Testing Limits Of Detention During Searches

Monday, February 25, 2013 - by Lee Davis
Lee Davis
Lee Davis
A recent ruling released by the U.S. Supreme Court last week, Bailey v. United Statesdealt with the authority of police officers to detain those who leave a residence that officers have come to search.

In an earlier case, Michigan v. Summers, decided in the early 1980s, the Supreme Court held that when police are executing a search warrant the police are entitled to temporarily hold people they discover on the premises even if they do not have a reason to suspect them of engaging in any wrongdoing.

This issue was tested in 2005 when police in Wyandanch, NY arrested a man, Chunon Bailey, even though he had already left the premises before any police arrived to search the building. Furthermore, Mr. Bailey was not stopped on the property in question, but was instead found a mile away from the house. Police officers who stopped Bailey found evidence that linked him to drugs and a weapon found in the house they were sent to search.

On Tuesday, the Court voted 6-3 to refuse to extend the principle laid out in 1981 to the facts of the present case. The justices agreed that the distance, in both time and geography, were too great to allow police the same authority found in the previously decided case. Justice Kennedy wrote that the practical necessities for why an officer might need to detain someone on the premises during a search disappear when that person is a great distance from the scene of the search.

Kennedy elaborated on the problem with allowing such a detention away from the premises. He said that the extraordinary intrusion on personal liberty would be even greater in such a circumstance given that the person would be stopped in public and then be forced to go back to the premises of the search, giving an outward appearance that the subject had been arrested.

The case resulted in a very odd voting alliance among the justices. Besides Kennedy, Roberts, and Scalia joined with Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan to form the majority. Thomas and Alito, two staunch conservatives, joined Justice Breyer in dissenting.

To read the full opinion, click here


(Lee Davis is a Chattanooga attorney who can be reached at lee@davis-hoss.com or at 266-0605.)

Chattanooga Chamber Presents Business Calendar For Oct. 12-16

MONDAY, OCTOBER 12   ... (click for more)

Electrify Africa Bill Passes Senate Foreign Relations Committee

U.S. Senators Bob Corker, Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.), all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Thursday praised committee passage of the Electrify Africa Act of 2015 (S.2152), which was also cosponsored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). With nearly 600 ... (click for more)

Attorney Patrick Says Chattanooga Is "Most Logical Place" For Consolidating Volkswagen Lawsuits; Hearing Set Dec. 3

Attorney Gary Patrick said Chattanooga is "the most logical place for consolidating the Volkswagen litigation because it is the only location in the country where VW vehicles are being produced." Attorney Patrick, of the local firm of Patrick, Beard, Schulman and Jacoway, said a hearing is set Dec. 3 in New Orleans on the issue. A host of lawsuits seeking class action status ... (click for more)

Woman Stabbed To Death On Hooker Road; Man Injured

A young woman was stabbed to death on Hooker Road early Friday morning and a man was injured. At approximately 1:54 a.m., Chattanooga Police responded to a stabbing at the 4000 block of Hooker Road. There police located an unidentified black female, believed to be in her twenties, deceased. A second person, an unidentified black male, was transported to a local hospital ... (click for more)

Regulations As A Whole On Signal Mountain

A few years ago I was flying over Chattanooga on my way to Atlanta.  The sun had just come up and I enjoyed picking out Signal Mountain’s location, on Walden’s Ridge, in the morning light.  What was amazing was that I could not tell that a town existed under the tree canopy.  I hope that the same can be said 10, 20, or even 50 years from now.  During last ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: We Must Learn To Tell

On July 4th of this year, FBI agents – acting on a tip -- arrested Alexander Ciccolo, a 23-year-old with known mental problems, as he carried a duffle bag full of automatic attack weapons. Moments before, he had bought the illegal firearms from an undercover informant outside of Boston. As agents later scoured his apartment, they found bomb-making equipment including a pressure ... (click for more)