In the Supreme Court of the United States
Arthur Gregory Lange, Petitioner
On Writ of Certiorari to
the Court of Appeal of the State of California, First Appellate Division
Brief of the DKT Liberty Project, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Reason Foundation, and Due Process Institute as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner
Permitting police officers categorically to effect a warrantless home entry during a misdemeanor pursuit will have deleterious consequences. A categorical rule, which overlooks the case-specific circumstances as to whether a true exigency exists, opens the door to misuse by police officers, erodes public trust in police, and ultimately will undermine successful policing itself.
These impacts are not hypothetical or abstract. The case law shows that officers—when given the opportunity to use a categorical rule—will effect warrantless entries into homes during pursuits for suspected violations of small-scale crimes where no true exigency exists. In the run-of-the-mill misdemeanor pursuit, the suspect’s entry into his or her home does not jeopardize evidence or implicate the safety of others. With a categorical rule, certain officers may initiate misdemeanor pursuits on flimsy pretenses to provide an “exigency” in order to enter a home without a warrant and look for evidence of more serious crimes.
These officers will not be held to account, even where they have engaged in racial profiling when deciding whether to pursue the suspect and enter the home. So long as the officer, after the fact, points to probable cause that the fleeing suspect committed a misdemeanor, the warrantless entry, under this Court’s case law, will be protected. This type of abuse of law enforcement power, in turn, erodes public confidence in the system and increases the likelihood that citizens will not trust, and instead will resist, law enforcement efforts. In the end, policing itself suffers.
A categorical rule is also unnecessary because officers have other mechanisms to more safely and effectively investigate the crimes and effect arrests where necessary, without having to resort to warrantless entry. For these reasons, as well as those set forth by Petitioner, this Court should conclude that the “hot pursuit” exigent circumstances exception does not categorically apply to misdemeanor pursuits.
Amicus Brief: Lange v. California