Enforcement and Investigations

In United States v. Cooley the U.S. Supreme Court held unanimously that an Indian tribe police officer may temporarily detain and search a non-Indian on a public right-of-way that runs through an Indian reservation, based on a suspected violation of state or federal law.

A tribal officer approached a vehicle stopped on a public right-of-way within the Crow Reservation to offer assistance. The officer ordered Joshua James Cooley, who appeared...

In a four-page opinion the U.S. Supreme Court held unanimously in Caniglia v. Strom that police community caretaking duties don’t justify warrantless searches and seizures in the home.

During an argument with his wife, Edward Caniglia put a handgun on their dining room table and asked his wife to “shoot [him] now and get it over with.” After spending the night at a hotel Caniglia’s wife couldn’t reach him by phone and asked police to do a...

In Heck v. Humphrey (1994), the Supreme Court held that a plaintiff can’t bring a civil suit for wrongful conviction unless his or her conviction was “favorably terminated.” But what if charges were dropped and the plaintiff was never convicted? In Thompson v. Clark the Supreme Court will decide when a plaintiff who was charged but never prosecuted may bring a malicious...

In a Supreme Court amicus brief filed in Caniglia v. Strom, the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) argues the Fourth Amendment “community caretaking” exception to the warrant requirement should extend beyond automobiles.

A police officer determined Edward Caniglia was “imminently...

CSG Midwest
Eight minutes and 46 seconds. That’s how long Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck while three other officers stood by and watched as Floyd died.
Twenty rounds. That’s how many shots were fired by three Louisville, Ky., police officers into the home of Breonna Taylor as they executed a no-knock search warrant, killing her as she slept.
Twelve years old. That’s how old Tamir Rice was when he was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer while holding a pellet gun in a public park.
This list can go on and on.
According to The Washington Post, 5,424 people have been shot and killed by police since Jan. 1, 2015. (See sidebar for state-by-state data for the Midwest.) African Americans make up 24 percent of those shot and killed by police; in 353 of these 1,298 incidents, the individual possessed neither a gun nor a knife. (African Americans make up 13.4 percent of the U.S. population.) 

In Kelly v. United States the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the federal fraud convictions of the Bridgegate masterminds because they didn’t seek to obtain money or property.

The Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, refused to support then-governor Chris Christie’s re-election. As punishment, under the guise of conducting a traffic study, one of Christie’s staff members and two high ranking Port Authority employees decided to close...

It has been three cases and nearly a decade in the making but the Supreme Court has finally ruled in Nieves v. Bartlett that the existence of probable cause defeats a First Amendment retaliatory arrest case…with one, small caveat. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in favor of the broader ruling in this case.

While police officer Luis Nieves and Russell Bartlett have different versions of what happened at Artic Man, a weeklong winter sports festival in Alaska, even the Ninth Circuit agreed that Sergeant Nieves had probable cause to arrest Bartlett. Sergeant Nieves knew Bartlett had been drinking and talking loudly when he saw Bartlett stand close to another officer and the officer push Bartlett away. But Bartlett claimed Sergeant Nieves really arrested him in violation of his First Amendment free speech rights because he had refused to speak to Sergeant Nieves previously, which Bartlett reminded Sergeant Nieves of when he was being arrested.

The issue the Supreme Court will decide in McDonough v. Smith is whether the statute of limitations for a due process fabrication of evidence claim begins to run when the criminal proceedings terminate in the defendant’s favor, or when the defendant becomes aware of the tainted evidence and its improper use. The States and Local Legal Center (SLLC) amicus brief argues for the latter standard.

Edward McDonough, former Democratic Commissioner of Rensselaer County Board of Elections, approved forged absentee ballot applications which he claims he didn’t know had been falsified. Youel Smith investigated and prosecuted McDonough. McDonough claims Smith “engaged in an elaborate scheme to frame McDonough for the crimes by, among other things, fabricating evidence.” After two trials, McDonough was ultimately acquitted.

In a per curiam (unauthored) unanimous opinion in City of Escondido v. Emmons the Supreme Court granted one police officer qualified immunity and instructed the Ninth Circuit to decide again whether another officer should have been granted qualified immunity. As it has done many times before, the Supreme Court criticized the Ninth Circuit for defining the right at issue (here to be free from excessive force) at too high a level of generality.

In April 2013 police arrested Maggie Emmons’ husband at their apartment for domestic violence. A few weeks later, after Maggie’s husband had been released, police received a 911 call from Maggie’s roommate’s mother, Trina. While Trina was on the phone with her daughter she overheard Maggie and her daughter yelling at each other and Maggie’s daughter screaming for help.

When the officers knocked on the door no one answered but they were able to try to convince Maggie to open the door by talking to her through a side window. An unidentified male told Maggie to back away from the window. Officer Craig was the only officer standing outside the door when a man walked out of the apartment. Officer Craig told the man not to close the door but he did and he tried to brush past Officer Craig. Officer Craig stopped him, took him to the ground, and handcuffed him. The man was Maggie’s father, Marty Emmons. He sued Officer Craig and Sergeant Toth, another officer at the scene, for excessive force.

In an amicus brief in Gamble v. United States, the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) asks the Supreme Court not to overrule the “separate sovereigns” exception to the Double Jeopardy Clause. This exception allows states and the federal government to convict and sentence a person for the same conduct.

Gamble was prosecuted for and convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon under both Alabama and United States law. His challenge to the “separate sovereigns” exception is unsurprising given that Justice Thomas joined Justice Ginsburg’s concurring opinion in Puerto Rico v. Sanchez-Valle (2016), which suggested the Court do a “fresh examination” of the “separate sovereigns” exception. These Justices are on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum and typically don’t vote together in close cases. 

In Sanchez-Valle the Court held that the Double Jeopardy Clause bars both Puerto Rico and the United States from prosecuting a person for the same conduct under equivalent criminal laws. Puerto Rico isn’t a sovereign distinct from the United States because it derived its authority from the U.S. Congress.

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