Bailey v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: February 19, 2013
  • Case #: 11-770
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Kennedy, J., delivered the Court's opinion which Roberts, C.J., and Scalia, Ginsberg, Sotomayor, and Kagan, JJ., joined. Scalia, J., filed a concurring opinion in which Ginsburg and Kagan JJ., joined. Breyer, J., filed a dissenting opinion, which Thomas and Alito, JJ., joined.
  • Full Text Opinion

The rule in Michigan v. Summers, 452 U. S. 692, which permits officers executing a search warrant to “detain the occupants of the premises while a proper search is conducted” is limited to the immediate vicinity of the premises to be searched.

Prior to executing a search warrant on Petitioner’s residence, police officers saw him leaving his home, and followed and detained him about a mile away. After finding narcotics and weapons in plain view on the premises, officers placed Petitioner under arrest. The district court held that Petitioner’s detention was justified under Michigan v. Summers 452 U. S. 692 (1981), as the detention of an occupant incident to the execution of a search warrant. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed holding that such a detention was reasonable, without addressing the district court’s alternate holding that the stop was permitted under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) and denied rehearing. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to clarify a split in the interpretation of Summers among the circuits.

The Supreme Court held that the seizure of Petitioner in this case was not reasonable and beyond the scope of Summers, which should be read to include only the detention of persons in the immediate vicinity of the premises to be searched. The Court noted that although police have fairly far reaching authority to detain persons at the scene of a valid search, the important law enforcement interests—officer safety, facilitating a search, and preventing flight—which justify such a detention, were not present or could be mitigated when a suspect was not on the immediate premises. Additionally, the Court pointed out the greater burden on individual’s personal liberty when the arrest took place publicly as opposed to in the vicinity of the home being searched. The Court saw no need to define the term “immediate vicinity,” since petitioner was detained in a location beyond any reasonable understanding of that term, nor did the Court reach the alternative argument under Terry which it remanded for the Court of Appeals to address.

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