Cortez v. McCauley
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
478 F.3d 1108 (2007)
Shortly after midnight, a hospital nurse reported that a woman brought her two-year-old daughter in because her daughter had stated that her babysitter’s boyfriend had “hurt her pee pee.” Four police officers immediately went to the home the babysitter, Tina Cortez, shared with her husband Rick (plaintiffs). The officers did not interview witnesses, wait for medical-examination results, or obtain a warrant beforehand. Rick complied when police ordered him to leave the house. Police handcuffed Rick, read his Miranda rights, and questioned him in a locked patrol car. An officer entered the home, seized Tina’s arm, and placed her in a separate patrol car, where she was questioned and allowed to use the officer’s cell phone. The Cortezes were in the patrol cars for about an hour. At some point, police searched the home, allegedly to look for additional children and eliminate possible threats to police safety. Ultimately, the medical examination did not incriminate Rick, and he was never charged with any crime. The Cortezes sued the police officers, their supervisor, and the Board of County Commissioners (the board) (defendants) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking damages for unlawful searches and seizures and excessive force. The defendants moved for summary judgment, claiming they had qualified immunity. The district court granted the supervisor’s and the board’s motions and denied the police officers’ motions. The Tenth Circuit panel affirmed the district court’s decisions except for one; it rejected Rick’s excessive-force claim. The Tenth Circuit then decided to rehear this case en banc.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Kelly, J.)
Concurrence/Dissent (Gorsuch, J.)
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