876 F.3d 987 (9th Cir. 2017), 14-15103, Smith v. City of Santa Clara

Docket Nº:14-15103
Citation:876 F.3d 987
Opinion Judge:ADELMAN, District Judge
Party Name:Josephine SMITH, an individual; A.S., a minor child, by and through her guardian ad litem, Josephine Smith, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. CITY OF SANTA CLARA, a public entity, Defendant-Appellee.
Attorney:Lauren R. Coatney (argued), Christine Peek, Matthew Schechter, and James McManis, McManis Faulkner, San Jose, California, for Plaintiffs-Appellants. Sujata T. Reuter (argued) and Jon A. Heaberlin, Rankin Stock Heaberlin, San Jose, California, for Defendant-Appellee.
Judge Panel:Before: Mary M. Schroeder and Jacqueline H. Nguyen, Circuit Judges, and Lynn S. Adelman, District Judge.
Case Date:November 30, 2017
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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Page 987

876 F.3d 987 (9th Cir. 2017)

Josephine SMITH, an individual; A.S., a minor child, by and through her guardian ad litem, Josephine Smith, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

CITY OF SANTA CLARA, a public entity, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 14-15103

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

November 30, 2017

Argued and Submitted February 12, 2016— San Francisco, California

Page 988

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Lucy H. Koh, District Judge, Presiding, D.C. No. 5:11-cv-03999-LHK.

Lauren R. Coatney (argued), Christine Peek, Matthew Schechter, and James McManis, McManis Faulkner, San Jose, California, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Sujata T. Reuter (argued) and Jon A. Heaberlin, Rankin Stock Heaberlin, San Jose, California, for Defendant-Appellee.

Before: Mary M. Schroeder and Jacqueline H. Nguyen, Circuit Judges, and Lynn S. Adelman,[*] District Judge.

SUMMARY

[**]

Civil Rights

The panel affirmed the district court's judgment, entered following a jury verdict, in favor of several police officers and the City of Santa Clara, in an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that police officers violated plaintiff's constitutional rights under state and federal law when they conducted a search of her home.

Santa Clara police officers, over plaintiff's objections, entered her home, without a warrant, to search for her daughter who was on probation and who police had probable cause to believe had just been involved in a theft of an automobile and a stabbing.

The panel held that once the government has probable cause to believe that a probationer has actually reoffended by participating in a violent felony, the government's need to locate the probationer and protect the public is heightened. The panel held that this heightened interest in locating the probationer was sufficient to outweigh a third party's privacy interest in the home that she shared with the probationer. The panel held that Georgia v. Randolph, 547 U.S. 103 (2006), which recognized a limitation on warrantless consent searches, was not directly applicable because the Supreme Court's probation-search cases did not rest on a consent rationale. Instead, the question was whether a warrantless probation search that affects the rights of a third party is reasonable under the totality of the circumstances. The panel held that under the totality of the circumstances, and the undisputed facts of this case, the warrantless search of plaintiff's home, over her objection, was reasonable as a matter of law. The panel further held that there was sufficient evidence at trial to permit the jury to find that officers had probable cause to believe that plaintiff's daughter lived at the residence.

OPINION

ADELMAN, District Judge

Justine Smith was involved in the theft of a vehicle and the stabbing of its owner. During the course of their investigation of these crimes, the police learned that Smith was on probation and that the terms of her probation allowed warrantless searches of her person and residence. The police went to the house that she had reported as her residence. Josephine Smith, Justine's mother, answered the door.[1] The officers, who did not have a warrant, told Josephine that they were there to conduct a probation search for Justine. Josephine refused to admit the officers to the home without a warrant. Despite her objection, the officers entered the home to search for Justine but did not find her.

Josephine and her minor granddaughter, A.S., sued several police officers and the City of Santa Clara, alleging that the search for Justine violated their constitutional rights under state and federal law. The jury returned a verdict for the defendants. The plaintiffs now appeal, arguing that under the Supreme Court's decision in Georgia v. Randolph, 547 U.S. 103, 126 S.Ct. 1515, 164 L.Ed.2d 208 (2006), the search of Josephine's home was unreasonable

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as a matter of law because the undisputed facts showed that Josephine was physically present at the time of the search and refused permission to search.

I.

A.

On October 4, 2010, Vahid Zarei reported to the San Jose Police Department that his car had been stolen. Zarei told police that he had just given Justine Smith a ride in the car and discovered that his spare key to the vehicle was missing. On October 7, 2010, Zarei's friend found the car in Santa Clara, California. Zarei and his friend then drove to Santa Clara to retrieve the car. When they arrived, but before they could get to the car, Justine and an unknown male entered the car and drove away. Justine was the driver. Zarei and his friend followed the car in the friend's car. At some point the cars stopped and the unknown male exited Zarei's vehicle and stabbed Zarei in the stomach. The male got back into Zarei's car, and Justine drove away. Zarei was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Santa Clara police officers investigated both the car theft and the stabbing. While at the hospital, they showed Zarei's friend a picture of Justine, and he identified her as the driver of the stolen car. The police then learned that in December 2009, a California court had placed Justine on probation for three years in connection with felony convictions for grand theft and forgery. As a condition of her probation, Justine agreed to warrantless searches of her residence.

The police contacted the probation department to determine Justine's whereabouts. On December 22, 2009, Justine reported her address to probation as 940 Gale Drive. This was the address of her mother's unit in a small, two-unit duplex. On January 6, 2010, Justine reported to the California Department of Motor Vehicles that her address was 942 Gale Drive, which was the address for the other unit in the duplex. In addition, two entries in a county database, one dated January 27, 2010, and the other dated May 14, 2010, listed Justine's address as 940 Gale Drive. Finally, on June 2, 2010, Justine once again reported to probation that her residence was 940 Gale Drive, but this time she added that she was in the process of moving out of her mother's house.

On October 10, 2010, officers began surveilling the Gale Drive duplex but did not see Justine. After waiting awhile, they knocked on the door to 940 Gale Drive and announced, " Probation Search. Open the door." Josephine opened the door, stated that Justine did not live at the residence, and demanded that the officers produce a search warrant. When the officers explained that they needed to conduct a probation search for Justine, Josephine became angry and refused to allow them to enter.

The officers entered the home despite Josephine's objections. They did not find Justine, but they found in the garage a sofa with sheets lying on it, female clothing, and an unopened envelope addressed to Justine at the 940 Gale Drive address. Officers then told Josephine that they needed to search the 942 unit of the duplex, which was locked and, according to Josephine, rented to another tenant. When officers indicated that they might need to force entry, Josephine directed them to the key. Officers then searched the 942 unit but did not find Justine.

B.

After the search, Josephine and A.S. sued the City of Santa Clara and the individual police officers involved in the

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search, alleging violations of their constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and California's Bane Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 52.1,2 along with several other state-law claims.3 One of Josephine's claims was that the search of the duplex violated her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Josephine argued that the search was unreasonable because the officers had searched her home without a warrant or her consent. (She also challenged the manner in which the officers carried out the search, but we will not discuss that aspect of her claim, as it is not at issue in this appeal.)

The defendants moved for summary judgment on the Fourth Amendment claim. They argued that the warrantless search of the...

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