859 F.2d 1411 (9th Cir. 1988), 86-6663, Perez v. Simmons

Docket Nº:86-6663.
Citation:859 F.2d 1411
Party Name:Irma Jean PEREZ, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Wayne A. SIMMONS; James Nalls; Thomas Miller; Mark Meske; and City of Santa Barbara, Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:October 26, 1988
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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859 F.2d 1411 (9th Cir. 1988)

Irma Jean PEREZ, Plaintiff-Appellant,


Wayne A. SIMMONS; James Nalls; Thomas Miller; Mark Meske;

and City of Santa Barbara, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 86-6663.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

October 26, 1988

Argued and Submitted March 7, 1988.

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John M. Sink, Santa Barbara, Cal., for plaintiff-appellant.

David K. Hughes, Asst. City Atty., and Kristofer Kallman, Santa Barbara, Cal., for defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

Before HUG, ALARCON and KOZINSKI, Circuit Judges.

HUG, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiff Irma Perez brought this section 1983 action against the City of Santa Barbara and certain police officers alleging that the officers violated her constitutional rights by entering her house unlawfully in search of her brother. The district judge granted a directed verdict in favor of the City, and a jury found in favor of the remaining defendants. In this appeal, Perez alleges error in the jury instructions and error in granting the directed verdict. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1291 (1982). We reverse.


On March 8, 1983, Irma Perez was living in a three-bedroom apartment at 13 South Soledad Street, in Santa Barbara, California. She had lived there over three years with her children.

Irma Perez had a brother named Albert who, Irma testified, never lived in her apartment. Albert was on probation and also had warrants outstanding for his arrest. Officers Nalls, Simmons, and Miller of the Santa Barbara Police Department narcotics detail were aware of the arrest warrants. Between October and December of 1982, the officers went three or four times to the residence of Albert's other sister, Debbie, to contact Albert. Debbie lived across town from Irma on Bath Street. This was the residence address that Albert had given to the police when he was arrested on August 21, 1982, and this was the address used by the probation department. When the officers spoke with

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Debbie on those occasions, they informed her of the warrants for Albert's arrest. She informed them that Albert was not residing there any longer and she did not know where he was living.

In the early afternoon of March 8, 1983, the three officers were driving in an unmarked vehicle on Carpinteria Street and approached the intersection of South Soledad Street. They spotted Albert Perez walking toward them on Soledad Street, in the same block where Irma Perez lived in the apartment complex. When Albert saw them, he immediately turned and headed in the direction of the apartment. Detective Miller got out of the car while the others drove to a parking place. The three then walked through the apartment complex but saw no trace of Albert.

Sergeant Nalls then recalled that he had participated in an arrest of Albert Perez in July of 1980 on Soledad Street in front of the same complex. He further recalled that, at that time, a relative of Albert's named Irma Perez was living in the complex, but he could not remember which apartment she lived in. Additionally, Detective Miller remembered that in early 1982, he had talked to Albert in this area. At that time, Albert said he was residing at the complex (according to Detective Miller's testimony).

Not knowing which apartment Irma Perez lived in, the three officers radioed the police dispatcher, asking for the address that was marked on Albert Perez's 1980 arrest report. Because the dispatcher was unable to assist, the officers drove to a nearby telephone and called the Santa Barbara Sheriff's narcotics detail to obtain the address. Detective Simmons was told that the address was apartment number 3 at 13 South Soledad Street. While driving back to the apartment complex, a detective's message came over the radio. Sergeant Nalls testified that he interpreted the detective to have said that Albert lived in Apt. 3. 1 When the officers asked the dispatcher to cross-index the address, the dispatcher informed them that Irma Perez lived at apartment 3.

The officers planned to search the apartment and radioed for assistance from a uniformed officer. As they were waiting for the backup car, Detective Miller observed a Mr. William Roberts exit the complex. Detectives Miller and Simmons knew Roberts, since they previously had arrested him. Detective Miller approached Roberts and asked which apartment Albert Perez lived in. According to Detective Miller's testimony, Roberts responded that Albert lived in Apt. 3, and when asked if that was Irma's apartment, Roberts responded that it was. Detective Miller also testified that he asked Roberts if he had seen Albert recently, and Roberts replied that he had not. Roberts' testimony conflicted with Miller's; Roberts testified that he told the officers Albert did not live there, but that he had seen Albert walking down the street five or ten minutes earlier.

When the uniformed police officer--Officer Meske--arrived, all four officers went to Apt. 3 intending to apprehend Albert, though they had no arrest warrants with them. Detective Simmons' testimony at trial indicated that the officers believed Albert was staying at Irma's apartment. Sargeant Nalls testified that he did not check with any city agency to determine whether the apartment was listed to anyone in addition to Irma Perez. Indeed, the defendants do not now claim that any such check was made. Sargeant Nalls testified at trial that the idea of obtaining a search warrant to search Irma Perez's apartment "just didn't occur to [him]."

Sergeant Nalls went to the rear of the apartment, and the other three officers went to the front door, knocked, and stated that they were police officers looking for Albert Perez, that they believed he was in the apartment, and that they had a warrant for his arrest. They then requested consent to search. Detective Miller testified that Irma Perez opened the door and stated that Albert was not there, did not live

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