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Supreme Court to Rule on Detention Incident to Arrest Exception to Fourth Amendment

The Supreme Court today granted certiorari in Bailey v. United States (No. 11-770) to determine whether, pursuant to Michigan v. Summers, police officers may detain an individual incident to the execution of a search warrant when the individual has left the immediate vicinity of the premises before the warrant is executed.

On July 28, 2005, the Suffolk County police obtained a search warrant for the "basement apartment of 103 Lake Drive" in Wyandanch, New York, on the basis of information from a confidential informant. The search warrant indicated that the apartment was "believed to be occupied by an individual known as 'Polo', a heavy set black male with short hair," and identified a "chrome .380 handgun" as the principal target of the search. 

Before they entered the apartment, the police saw two men, later identified as Chunon Bailey and Bryant Middleton, exiting the gate at the top of the stairs that led down to the basement of 103 Lake Drive.  Both Bailey and Middleton matched the CI's description of "Polo." The police watched as Bailey and Middleton got into a car in the driveway and drove down the block.  They pulled the car over after it had driven about a mile away.  Meanwhile, another team of police officers began the search of the apartment.   

After pulling the car over, the police patted down Bailey and Middleton and asked for identification.  Bailey identified himself and showed a driver's licenses bearing a Bay Shore, New York address, but also said that he was coming from his house at "103 Lake Drive" in Wyandanch, New York.  Middleton also told the police that Bailey lived at 103 Lake Drive.  At that point, the officers placed Bailey and Middleton in handcuffs and — in response to Bailey's inquiry as to why they were being "arrested" — informed both men that they were being detained, but not arrested, incident to the execution of a search warrant in the basement apartment of 103 Lake Drive. To that, Bailey responded, "I don't live there.  Anything you find there ain't mine, and I'm not cooperating with your investigation."

After driving Bailey and Middleton back to 103 Lake Drive, the police told them that the search team had found a gun and drugs in plain view in the apartment.  The police arrested Bailey and Middleton and seized Bailey's house and car keys. Later that evening, the police discovered that one of the keys on Bailey's key ring opened the door of the basement apartment.  In total, about ten minutes elapsed between Bailey's stop and his formal arrest.

The evidence obtained during the search of Bailey's home and his statements to the police provided the basis for the government's indictment. Bailey moved to suppress the physical evidence and his statements, on the theory that he was unlawfully detained and searched in violation of the Fourth Amendment.


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