United States Supreme Court Limits Vehicle Searches By Police

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court held the following in Arizona v. Gant:  Holding: Police may search a vehicle incident to a recent occupant’s arrest only if the arrestee is within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest. When these justifications are absent, a search of an arrestee’s vehicle will be unreasonable unless police obtain a warrant or show that another exception to the warrant requirement applies 

Supreme Court Highlights Re: Statute Of Limitations In False Arrest Claims

Here are some highlights from the United States Supreme Court's opinion in Andrew Wallace v. Kato, et al regarding the statute of limitations in false arrest claims. First, the court noted that "[w]hile we have never stated so expressly, the accrual date of a 1983 cause of action is a question of federal law that is not resolved by reference to state law."  Second, the court stated that "limitations begin to run against an action for false imprisonment when the alleged false imprisonment ends." Third, the court held that "a false imprisonment ends once the victim becomes held pursuant to such process - when, for example, he is bound over by a magistrate or arraigned on charges." In the case of Andre Wallace, the Supreme Court concluded that "the statute of limitations on petitioner's 1983 claim commenced to run when he appeared before the examining magistrate and was bound over for trial." Since more than two years (Illinois statute of limitations for personal injury torts) had elapsed between the date when Wallace appeared before the magistrate and was bound over for trial and the filing of his suit, his action was time-barred.

US Supreme Court Affirms Wallace v. Kato Ruling

The United States Supreme Court has affirmed the Seventh Circuit's holding in Wallace v. Kato, et al. The Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by Justice Scalia, held that the statute of limitations upon a section 1983 claim seeking damages for false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment, where the arrest is followed by criminal proceedings, begins to run at the time the claimant becomes detained pursuant to to legal process. As background, in January 1994, the Chicago police arrested Wallace for murder. He was tried and convicted, but the charges were later dropped in April 2002. In April 2003, Wallace filed suit under section 1983 against the City of Chicago and several police offices , seeking damages for, among other things, his alleged unlawful arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The District Court granted summary judgment and the Seventh Circuit affirmed, ruling that the section 1983 suit was time barred because Wallace's cause of action accrued at the time of his arrest,  not when his conviction was later set aside. In a written opinion dated February 21, 2007, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the Seventh Circuit's ruling. The case was argued before the Supreme Court by Benna Ruth Solomon on behalf of the City of Chicago.

False Arrest Claims - Statute of Limitations

The United States Supreme Court recently held oral argument in Wallace v. City of Chicago, a case which arose out of the arrest of Andre Wallace on charges of murder. After being released from custody in 2002, Wallace filed suit against the City of Chicago and two detectives, alleging, among other things, a false arrest claim. The district court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment on the false arrest claim, finding the claim to be time-barred. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, finding the statute of limitations had begun to run on the false arrest claim at the time of arrest. Wallace filed a petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, challenging the Seventh Circuit's determination that his false arrest claim was time-barred and noting that other federal appeals courts have held that the statute of limitations does not begin to run on a false arrest claim until the underlying charges are dismissed. The United States Supreme Court granted Wallace's petition and oral argument was held on November 6, 2006. A decision on this important issue is expected by the Spring of 2007.