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Brigham City v. Stuart

Supreme Court of the United States

April 24, 2006, Argued ; May 22, 2006, Decided

No. 05-502

Opinion

 [*400]   [***656]   [**1946]  Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion of the Court.

In this case we consider whether police may enter a home without a warrant when they have an objectively reasonable basis for believing that an occupant is seriously injured or imminently threatened with such injury. We conclude that they may.

This case arises out of a melee that occurred in a Brigham City, Utah, home in the early morning hours of July 23, 2000. At about 3 a.m., four police officers responded to a call regarding  [*401]  a loud [****6]  party at a residence. Upon arriving at the house, they heard shouting from inside, and proceeded down the driveway to investigate.  There, they observed two juveniles drinking beer in the backyard. They entered the backyard, and saw--through a screen door and windows--an altercation taking place in the kitchen of the home. According to the testimony of one of the officers, four adults were attempting, with some difficulty, to restrain a juvenile. The juvenile eventually "broke free, swung a fist and struck one of the adults in the face."  2005 UT 13, P2, 122 P. 3d 506, 508. The officer testified that he observed the victim of the blow spitting blood into a nearby sink. App. 40. The other adults continued to try to restrain the juvenile, pressing him up against a refrigerator with such force that the refrigerator began moving across the floor. At this point, an officer opened the screen door and announced the officers' presence. Amid the tumult, nobody noticed. The officer entered the kitchen and again cried out, and as the occupants slowly became aware that the police were on the scene, the altercation ceased.

The officers subsequently arrested respondents and charged [****7]  them with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, disorderly conduct, and intoxication. In the trial court, respondents filed a motion to suppress all evidence obtained after the officers entered the home, arguing that the warrantless entry violated the Fourth Amendment. The court granted the motion, and the Utah Court of Appeals affirmed.

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547 U.S. 398 *; 126 S. Ct. 1943 **; 164 L. Ed. 2d 650 ***; 2006 U.S. LEXIS 4155 ****; 74 U.S.L.W. 4253; 19 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 199

BRIGHAM CITY, UTAH, Petitioner v. CHARLES W. STUART et al.

Prior History:  [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF UTAH.

 Brigham City v. Stuart, 2005 UT 13, 122 P.3d 506, 2005 Utah LEXIS 23 (2005)

Disposition: Reversed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

circumstances, exigency, adults, the Fourth Amendment, juvenile, violence, arrest, motivations, kitchen, door, warrantless

Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Search & Seizure, Scope of Protection, Criminal Law & Procedure, Warrantless Searches, General Overview, Exigent Circumstances, Protection of Officers & Others, Reasonable & Prudent Standard