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Eleventh Circuit rules that deputy sheriff violated plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights by entering his home without a warrant to arrest him

On October 16, 2019, in Bailey v. Swindell,No. 18-13572, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court ruling that had dismissed the plaintiff’s civil right case. The plaintiff filed suit alleging that a Florida deputy sheriff violated his Fourth Amendment rights by arresting him in his hone without an arrest warrant. The district court dismissed the case after concluding that the deputy was entitled to qualified immunity because he had probable cause to arrest the plaintiff under Fla. Stat. § 843.02, which makes resisting an officer without violence a first-degree misdemeanor. The district court reasoned that when the plaintiff turned to enter his home after having a conversation with the officer, who was investigating a marital dispute, he effectively violated the statute, cloaking the deputy’s subsequent arrest with qualified immunity for a law enforcement officer in the performance of his duties. However, as the Eleventh Circuit pointed out, this did not resolve the issue because the officer followed the plaintiff into his home and tackled him, executing the arrest without a warrant in the plaintiff’s home. The Eleventh Circuit noted that a lawful arrest could still have occurred if there had been consent or exigent circumstances, but neither existed in this case. The defendant argued that the case was controlled by United States v. Santana, 427 U.S. 38 (1976), which held that a warrant was unnecessary to execute an arrest which began in the open doorway of a home and was completed inside the house. The Eleventh Circuit distinguished this case because the arrest was not initiated until the plaintiff had already entered his home. The Court also noted that Santana involved a “hot pursuit” exigency, which did not exist in this case.

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