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Pearson v. Callahan

Supreme Court of the United States

October 14, 2008, Argued; January 21, 2009, Decided

No. 07-751

Opinion

 [**813] Justice Alito delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is an action brought by respondent under Rev. Stat. § 1979, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against state law enforcement officers who conducted a warrantless search of his house incident to his arrest for the sale of methamphetamine to an undercover informant whom he had voluntarily admitted to the premises. The Court of Appeals held that petitioners were not entitled to  [****8] summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds. Following the procedure we mandated in Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 121 S. Ct. 2151, 150 L. Ed. 2d 272 (2001), the Court of Appeals held, first, that respondent adduced facts sufficient to make out a violation of the Fourth Amendment and, second, that the unconstitutionality of the officers' conduct was clearly established. In granting review, we required the parties to address the additional question whether the mandatory procedure set out in Saucier should be retained.

We now hold that HN1[] LEdHN[1][] [1] the Saucier procedure should not be regarded as an inflexible requirement and that petitioners are entitled to qualified immunity on the ground that it was not clearly established at the time of the search that their conduct was unconstitutional. We therefore reverse.

The Central Utah Narcotics Task Force is charged with investigating illegal drug use and sales. In 2002, Brian Bartholomew, who became an informant for the task force after having been charged with the unlawful possession of methamphetamine, informed Officer Jeffrey Whatcott that  [***571] respondent Afton Callahan had arranged to sell Bartholomew methamphetamine later that day.

That evening, Bartholomew arrived at respondent's residence  [****9] at about 8 pm. Once there, Bartholomew went inside and confirmed that respondent had methamphetamine available for sale. Bartholomew then told respondent that he needed to obtain money to make his purchase and left.

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555 U.S. 223 *; 129 S. Ct. 808 **; 172 L. Ed. 2d 565 ***; 2009 U.S. LEXIS 591 ****; 77 U.S.L.W. 4068; 21 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 588

CORDELL PEARSON, et al., Petitioners v. AFTON CALLAHAN

Prior History:  [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT.

Callahan v. Millard County, 494 F.3d 891, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 16853 (10th Cir. Utah, 2007)

Disposition: Reversed.

qualified immunity, cases, courts, constitutional question, two-step, court of appeals, methamphetamine, lower court, constitutional right, the Fourth Amendment, decisions, protocol, damages, district court, consent-once-removed, informant, arrest, circumstances, warrantless, mandatory, questions, resolving, parties, municipality, undercover, adherence, sequence, decisis, rights, rigid

Civil Rights Law, Immunity From Liability, Local Officials, Individual Capacity, Governments, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Constitutional Questions, Necessity of Determination, Scope, Law Enforcement Officials, Search & Seizure, General Overview