Not a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Chavez v. Martinez

Supreme Court of the United States

December 4, 2002, Argued ; May 27, 2003, Decided

No. 01-1444

Opinion

 [**1999]  [*763]   Justice Thomas announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion. 1

This case involves a § 1983 suit arising out of petitioner Ben Chavez's allegedly coercive interrogation of respondent Oliverio Martinez. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that Chavez was not entitled to a defense of qualified immunity because he violated Martinez's clearly established constitutional rights. We conclude that Chavez did not deprive Martinez of a constitutional right.

On November 28, 1997, police officers Maria Pena [****8]  and Andrew Salinas were near a vacant lot in a residential area of Oxnard, California, investigating suspected narcotics activity. While Pena and Salinas were questioning an individual, they heard a bicycle approaching on a darkened path that crossed the lot. They ordered the rider, respondent Martinez, to dismount, spread his legs, and place his hands behind his head. Martinez complied. Salinas then conducted a  [*764]  patdown frisk and discovered a knife in Martinez's waistband. An altercation ensued. 2

There is some dispute about what occurred during the altercation. The officers claim that Martinez drew Salinas' gun from its holster and pointed it at them; Martinez denies this. Both sides agree, however, that Salinas yelled, "'He's got my gun!'" App. to Pet. for Cert.  [****9]  3a. Pena then drew her gun and shot Martinez several times, causing severe injuries that left Martinez permanently blinded and paralyzed from the waist down. The officers then placed Martinez under arrest.

 [***992]  Petitioner Chavez, a patrol supervisor, arrived on the scene minutes later with paramedics. Chavez accompanied Martinez to the hospital and then questioned Martinez there while he was receiving treatment from medical personnel. The interview lasted a total of about 10 minutes, over a 45-minute period, with Chavez leaving the emergency room for periods of time to permit medical personnel to attend to Martinez.

At first, most of Martinez's answers consisted of "I don't know," "I am dying," and "I am choking." App. 14, 17, 18. Later in the interview, Martinez admitted that he took the gun from the officer's holster and pointed it at the police. Id., at 16. He also admitted that he used heroin regularly. Id., at 18.  At one point, Martinez said "I am not telling you anything until they treat me," yet Chavez continued the interview. Id., at 14. At no point during the interview was Martinez given Miranda warnings under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694,  [**2000]  86 S. Ct. 1602 (1966). [****10]  App. 4.

Read The Full CaseNot a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.

538 U.S. 760 *; 123 S. Ct. 1994 **; 155 L. Ed. 2d 984 ***; 2003 U.S. LEXIS 4274 ****; 71 U.S.L.W. 4387; 2003 Cal. Daily Op. Service 4375; 2003 Daily Journal DAR 5593; 16 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 300

BEN CHAVEZ, Petitioner v. OLIVERIO MARTINEZ

Subsequent History: On remand at, Remanded by Martinez v. City of Oxnard, 337 F.3d 1091, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 15060 (9th Cir. Cal., 2003)

Prior History: ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.

Martinez v. City of Oxnard, 270 F.3d 852, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 23401 (9th Cir. Cal., 2001)

Disposition: 270 F.3d 852, reversed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

Self-Incrimination, interrogation, questioning, criminal case, confession, immunity, happened, substantive due process, coercive, cases, rights, pain, constitutional right, the Fifth Amendment, compulsion, torture, criminal proceeding, warnings, violates, incriminating, joins, police interrogation, circumstances, answers, qualified immunity, the Fourteenth Amendment, prophylactic, police officer, safeguard, deprived