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Top 4 Unreasonable Search Cases from 2011

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

As the calendar changes from one year to the next, many people find themselves searching. Some are searching for resolutions, or means of personal fulfillment. Others are searching for a new calendar. Police officers are usually searching for evidence of misdeeds

And with that wish in mind, let’s take a look back at our top 4 favorite Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals unreasonable search challenges from 2011.

  1. Dog-Eat-Dog World. In a warrantless search case, a couple who advertised a litter of American bulldog puppies received an unexpected -- and warrantless -- visit from Louisville Metro Animal Services (LMAS) because they didn't have a breeder's permit to sell the pups. The Sixth Circuit ruled that uniformed officers who performed a warrantless search of the couple's home and seized the dogs were not protected by qualified immunity.
  2. Justified? Based on a tip from an anonymous informant, police stopped and searched Jamail Arnold's car before a controlled buy. Arnold argued that the drugs that police found during the warrantless search should be suppressed because police didn't have probable cause to stop and search the vehicle. The court disagreed, finding a warrantless automobile search is not "unreasonable if based on facts that would justify the issuance of a warrant, even though a warrant has not actually been obtained."
  3. Stop, Thief! In October, the Sixth Circuit ruled that a search is unreasonable if a police officer is not engaged in a bona fide investigation. The court found that a merry band of Memphis cops who stole drugs from dealers conducted unreasonable searches, and violated the dealers' civil rights.
  4. It Takes Two? He said no to a search. She said yes. And the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said that police conducted an unreasonable search because co-tenants have equal possessory interests to consent to a search. That means that one party's express objection to a search is sufficient to render the search of the entire area as unreasonable as to him, despite a second party's consent to the search.

Regardless of what you search for personally in the New Year, we're hopeful that you don't get searched personally in 2012. And if you, or one of your clients, are currently appealing an unreasonable search to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, perhaps you'll make it into our top 4 list next year.

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