Published on: Wednesday, October 4, 2017

This morning, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in District of Columbia v. Wesby, No. 15-1485.  In this qualified immunity case arising from the District of Columbia, “Police officers found late-night partiers inside a vacant home belonging to someone else.  After giving conflicting stories for their presence, some partiers claimed they had been invited by a different person who was not there. The lawful owner told the officers, however, that he had not authorized entry by anyone. The officers arrested the partiers for trespassing.”  The two issues granted certiorari were: “1. Whether the officers had probable cause to arrest under the Fourth Amendment, and in particular whether, when the owner of a vacant home informs police that he has not authorized entry, an officer assessing probable cause to arrest those inside for trespassing may discredit the suspects' questionable claims of an innocent mental state.  2. Whether, even if there was no probable cause to arrest the apparent trespassers, the officers were entitled to qualified immunity because the law was not clearly established in this regard."

SCOTUSblog provides an analysis of the argument and links to the briefing.  The transcript of the argument is available from the Supreme Court.  For Defender Services materails on litiagting Fourth Amendment issues, click here.