“WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court threw out an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against a San Diego-area police officer Monday, saying the Constitution does not make it clearly illegal for officers to pursue a potential suspect into a homeowner’s private yard.
The justices unanimously reversed a ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had upheld the homeowner’s lawsuit and said the officer had violated the 4th Amendment’s ban on “unreasonable searches.”
In the past, the justices had said officers in a “hot pursuit” of a fleeing suspect may enter a private home or yard. On Monday, they said an officer in such a case has not clearly violated the law even when the individual being pursued is not a violent felon.”
The court got this one right. The police officer, Mike Stanton, was pursuing Nicholas Patrick, when Patrick darted into the yard of Drendolyn Sims. Stanton continued his pursuit into Ms Sims yard. Ms Sims sued PO Stanton for violating her right to illegal search and seizure.
The federal district court judge found for Stanton but that ruling was overturned by the 9th Court of Appeals. In an opinion by Judge Stephen Reinhardt of Los Angeles, the Appeals Court ruled that the officer had violated the law. He noted that Stanton did not have reason to believe the young man was dangerous or had committed a crime, other than not responding to his question.
The officer appealed. Without bothering to hear arguments, the high court issued an eight-page unsigned opinion reversing the 9th Circuit in Stanton vs. Sims.
The court said officers have “qualified immunity” from lawsuits if their actions do not violate a clear constitutional rule, and Stanton’s “split-second decision to enter Sims’ yard” did not clearly violate the Constitution.
Just think about how ludicrous that the lawsuit against Officer Martin really was. Ms Sims, while rightly was annoyed that Martin entered her property, was not equally annoyed at Patrick because she did not sue him, too. She seemed to pick and choose at whom to be annoyed.
And, think about this. She apparently felt it was alright to harbor a possible felon without helping the police officer in his pursuit. Most people would have acted differently than Ms Sims did, by being grateful the police continued into the yard to capture the alleged felon.
What kind of criminal justice mores and morals does this woman have? Is she so anti-police that she was willing to sue the police officer FOR doing his job? There seems to be a disconnect here.
Perhaps, next time the police should allow the perp enter her yard and rob her house blind. No, wait, she’ll sue the police for dereliction of duty and responsibility.
Wouldn’t that be the height of hypocrisy and hubris on her part.