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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ind. Courts - "7th Circuit upholds warrantless entry, seizure of gun rights activist"

That is the headline to this long story today by Bruce Vielmetti of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about yesterday's 7th Circuit opinion in Krysta Sutterfield v. City of Milwaukee (h/t Michelle Olsen ‏@AppellateDaily). The story begins:

Milwaukee police who forced their way into a gun rights advocate's home without a warrant, took her for an emergency mental evaluation and seized her gun were justified under the circumstances and protected from her civil rights claims, a federal appeals court has ruled.

Krysta Sutterfield, who twice made news because of her practice of openly carrying a handgun — at a Brookfield church and outside a Sherman Park coffee shop — drew police attention in 2011 after her psychiatrist reported a suicidal remark Sutterfield made during a difficult appointment.

Sutterfield, 45, claimed police violated her rights against unreasonable search and seizure and Second Amendment rights to keep a gun, but a district judge dismissed the case.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 75-page opinion analyzing existing law about when police may act without search warrants, upheld the decision but suggested there might be better ways to balance personal privacy rights in the context of emergency mental health evaluations.

"The intrusions upon Sutterfield's privacy were profound," Judge Ilana Rovner wrote for three-judge panel. "At the core of the privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment is the right to be let alone in one's home."

But the court also found, that on the other hand, "There is no suggestion that (police) acted for any reason other than to protect Sutterfield from harm."

In a short concurrence, Judge Daniel Manion said he hoped state legislatures will "provide for a judicially issued civil warrant process that would authorize law enforcement to enter someone's home when there is probable cause to believe that she poses a risk to herself or others because of mental illness."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 14, 2014 10:58 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions