Cameron v. Craig

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 04-16-2013
  • Case #: 11-55927
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge M. Smith for the Court; Circuit Judge McKeown and District Judge Bell
  • Full Text Opinion

When executing a lawful search warrant and arrest, an officer is not required to obtain further evidence, or interview the subject of the search warrant, once probable cause is established; whether excessive force was used in the execution of that warrant is generally a question of fact for the jury.

Michelle Cameron and David Buether dated, but never married. After separating Cameron used Buether’s credit card to purchase home furnishings amounting to nearly $9,000. Buether demanded that Cameron repay him for the furniture after seeing it, but she refused. Buether filed a complaint with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department that Cameron had used his credit card without authorization. San Diego County Sheriff’s Detective Michelle Craig was assigned to the case and verified that the items purchased on the card were shipped to Cameron’s address. Craig applied for a warrant to search Cameron’s apartment for the items. Deputies with weapons drawn entered Cameron’s home and executed the search. Cameron was arrested, but all charges were dismissed. Cameron filed suit alleging that Buether and County Defendants conspired to violate her Fourth Amendment rights when they unlawfully searched her home, used excessive force, and arrested her without probable cause. The district court granted the County Defendants motion for summary judgment and Cameron appealed. Cameron argued that Craig had a duty to investigate her version before obtaining a search warrant. The Ninth Circuit rejected this argument and found probable cause was established upon verification of the sale and shipment of furniture. Cameron next argued there was no probable cause to arrest her; however the panel found that the facts proved otherwise. Finally, Cameron argues that the officers used excessive force. The reasonableness of a search should be assessed by three factors: the severity of the crime, whether the suspect poses a threat to officers or others and whether the suspect is resisting or attempting to evade arrest. The panel held the disputed facts should be presented to a jury in regard to the excessive force and conspiracy claim. The panel held that the district court properly awarded summary judgment to the County Defendants on all claims except for excessive force and conspiracy. AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED.

Advanced Search