Thursday, May 08, 2008

They wouldn't go away!

Thanks (again) to Paige Nichols for tipping me off to this Tenth Circuit case. John T. Carlson, a federal public defender in Denver, won in U.S. v. Reeves, 07-8028 (10th Cir. May 7, 2008), reversing a Wyoming drug conviction based on an illegal seizure of Mr. Reeve's from his motel room:

The officers’ conduct outside Reeves’ motel room would lead a reasonable person to believe he was not free to ignore the officers. Although there is no evidence the officers gave Reeves a direct order to open his door, the officers’ actions were effectively a command to open the door. The record demonstrates that three officers pounded on Reeves’ door and window while yelling and loudly identifying themselves as police officers. They continued this conduct consistently for at least twenty minutes. This encounter began between 2:30 and 3:00 in the morning, a time which must be taken into consideration when analyzing the coerciveness of the encounter. A reasonable person faced with several police officers consistently knocking and yelling at their door for twenty minutes in the early morning hours would not feel free to ignore the officers’ implicit command to open the door. As a result, when Reeves answered his door he did so in response to a show of authority by the officers and he was seized inside his home.
Seems right. I know I wouldn't feel free to blow off officers in these circumstances! Here is coverage on

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