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SCOTUS says there’s no such thing as the “community caretaker” exception

We’ll have a full analysis of this one in the coming days, but for anybody currently litigating a community caretaker case, be advised the doctrine doesn’t exist. Writing for a unanimous Court (there are two concurrences totaling four justices, so the 5-justice majority is law) Justice Thomas says that the reference in Cady v. Dombrowski to the “community caretaking” function of police was descriptive only: it’s not a stand-alone warrant exception. Not being an exception, it doesn’t get the police into the home. (Related justifications, like the need to render emergency aid, still may justify entry into a dwelling in a given case.) This decision clearly overrules  State v. Pinkard, 2010 WI 81, 327 Wis. 2d 346, 785 N.W.2d 592 and State v. Matalonis, 2016 WI 7, 366 Wis. 2d 443, 875 N.W.2d 567, both of which held that “community caretaking” justified entries into private residences. Many other state cases rely on “community caretaking” in other contexts; given that the doctrine is now nonexistent, these cases are now without much, if any, force.

UPDATE: Oops. The case is Caniglia v. Strom.

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