Stanton v. Sims (2013) 571 U.S. 3

In response to GMSR’s certiorari petition, the United States Supreme Court did not simply grant the petition, but—without further briefing or oral argument—issued a full opinion summarily reversing the Ninth Circuit and finding in favor of GMSR’s client. The question presented was whether a police officer could be held liable for entering a gated front yard (considered part of a house) without a warrant when he was in “hot pursuit” of an individual that he was trying to arrest for a misdemeanor. The Ninth Circuit held that the officer should have known that the entry was unlawful, and that he therefore did not have qualified immunity from suit. In its summary reversal, the Court held that since no Ninth Circuit case had previously decided the issue, the Court’s own case law was unclear on the question, and California courts, along with those of other states, had found that officers could enter a home in hot pursuit of a misdemeanant, there was no basis for holding that the officer should have known that entry was unlawful, and he was entitled to qualified immunity.

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