Law School Case Brief
United States v. Ivy - 165 F.3d 397 (6th Cir. 1998)
In a consent to search analysis, several factors should be examined. First, a court should examine the characteristics of the accused, including the age, intelligence, and education of the individual; whether the individual understands the right to refuse to consent; and whether the individual understands his or her constitutional rights. Second, a court should consider the details of the detention, including the length and nature of detention; the use of coercive or punishing conduct by the police, and indications of more subtle forms of coercion that might flaw an individual's judgment.
Police Officer Paul Harvey and two other officers went to a house located at 6706 Silhouette in Memphis, Tennessee, based on information that a fugitive, Desi Arnez Hall, was at that location. At the time, defendant James Ivy resided at this address. The officers arrived, knocked on the front door, and Ivy opened it. Officer Harvey asked Ivy if he was Desi Arnez Hall, and Ivy replied that he was not. The police officers, however, found their way inside the house and searched the premises without a warrant. They found cocaine in the premises. The officers asked Ivy to sign a consent form, which Ivy only agreed to sign after refusing twice and being coerced by the officers on the third time. Ivy was convicted in federal district court for cocaine possession with intent to distribute. Ivy appealed, challenging the validity of his consent to search.
Was Ivy's consent to search voluntarily given?
The appellate court affirmed the district court's judgment that Ivy consented to the police officer's entry into his house. However, the court reversed the district court's judgment that his consent to the police search was voluntarily given. The court found that, given the overwhelming evidence of coercion and intimidation employed by the police in obtaining Ivy's signature on the consent form, the government did not meet its burden of proving by clear and positive testimony that Ivy's consent was voluntarily given. The court noted that the prolonged length of Ivy's detention was particularly significant in light of the nature of his detention. Among other things, the police officers used unlawful threats in order to secure Ivy's consent. The court remanded the matter for further proceedings.
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