High Court to Weigh Police Liability
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a case that calls upon them to decide whether police are personally liable for mistakes they make on search warrants.
Law officers are ordinarily immune from lawsuits over their conduct on duty, but the high court has allowed exceptions when the officer violated someone's constitutional rights. The question this time, in a case involving a 1997 ranch in rural Montana, is whether a mistake on the search warrant opened the door for a lawsuit, when there was no specific previous case that would have put an ATF agent on notice that he was at risk.The case is Groh v. Ramirez, 02-811. Fourth Amendment.com provides this information about the decision being appealed:
The Ninth Circuit held that the rank and file officers at the scene had immunity but the supervisors did not for a clear failure of particularity in a search warrant. Ramirez v. Butte-Silver Bow County, 298 F.3d 1022 (9th Cir. 2002), pet. for cert filed Nov. 22, 2002 (02-811), cert. granted Mar. 3, 2003 (will not be argued until Fall 2003).
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