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SCOTUS will decide whether community caretaker exception can get police into the home

Caniglia v. Strom, USSC No. 20-157, cert granted 11/20/20

Question presented:

Whether the “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement extends to the home.

Lower court decision: 953 F.3d 112 (1st Cir. 2020).

Docket

Scotusblog page (including links to filings and commentary)

The Supreme Court announced the “community caretaking” exception to the warrant requirement in Cady v. Dombrowski, 413 U.S. 433 (1973). Cady involved the search of a towed car, and the Court took pains to emphasize the difference between the car and the home in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.

In succeeding decades, however, many courts–including our own state supreme court–have held that the exception for community caretaking justified warrantless entries into the home. See, e.g.State v. Gracia, 2013 WI 15, 345 Wis. 2d 488, 826 N.W.2d 87. Many other courts–including the Seventh Circuit–have concluded to the contrary: that the exception stops at the home’s front door. See, e.g., Sutterfield v. Milwaukee, 751 F.3d 542 (7th Cir. 2014).

The petitioner in this case, which concerns a § 1983 suit against some police officers who seized the guns from his home, says the exception delineated in Cady depends on the lesser expectation of privacy in, and pervasive regulation of, travel by vehicle. However this case comes out, some law applicable in Wisconsin–whether that of the state or the federal courts–will be overruled.

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