Los Angeles County v. Max Rettele

Qualified Immunity and Sovereign Immunity
Docket Number: 
Case Description: 

Unconstitutional Search & Seizure

  1. Is it clearly established that an officer must immediately call off a valid warrant calling for the arrest of African Americans merely because he observes one or more Caucasians in the house to be searched?
  2. Is it clearly established that, in lawfully executing a search warrant at a residence, it is an unnecessarily painful and/or degrading and/or undue invasion of privacy for officers to order people — who are in bed and who claim to be naked — to show their hands and get out of bed?
  3. Can a Circuit Court of Appeals find that the law is "clearly established" so as to foreclose a finding of qualified immunity under Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194 (2001) when even the circuit judges cannot agree on whether a constitutional violation occurred?

Scott Nelson of Public Citizen was co-counsel for the respondent at the cert stage. The Supreme Court summarily reversed the Ninth Circuit's opinion, finding no Fourth Amendment violation.