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US police win protracted legal battle in house party case

The US Supreme Court says police acted reasonably in raiding a house party a decade ago in response to a house party, settling a decade long case
AFP

Washington (AFP) – The US Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of police who arrested attendees at a debaucherous party held in a vacant residence without the owner’s permission.

The police intervention, which stemmed from a routine late-night noise complaint a decade ago, evolved into a case with weighty legal implications concerning the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens from unreasonable searches, seizures and arrests.

The officers arrested 21 people — including a man who had taken refuge in a closet and several women wearing garters stuffed with cash. Sixteen of those arrested sued in federal court, saying they did not know they were trespassing on private property.

The cops then found themselves sentenced to pay $1 million in damages to the partiers, including legal fees — a punishment canceled Monday.

After ten years of legal wrangling, the Supreme Court found that “a reasonable officer, looking at the entire legal landscape at the time of the arrests, could have interpreted the law as permitting arrests here.”

Seven of nine judges on the nation’s highest bench signed the judgment, with two agreeing to the decision but voicing some reservations.

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