CA5: Siccing police dog on woman in mental health crisis was excessive force; no crime involved

“Without any further attempts to subdue Sligh without the use of a dog bite, and without providing Sligh any warning that she may be subjected to a dog bite if she did not comply, Sutton sicced a dog on a woman who (1) was not suspected of any crime; (2) did not pose an immediate safety threat to officers or others; and (3) was in need of emergency medical intervention due to self-harm. Furthermore, Sligh–surrounded by a fence and thick foliage–was not attempting to flee the officers. Employing a dog bite under these circumstances arguably constituted an unreasonable seizure in violation of Sligh’s Fourth Amendment rights.” Sligh v. City of Conroe, 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 31011 (5th Cir. Nov. 21, 2023).

Defense counsel was not ineffective for not moving to suppress the cell phone search because it was reasonable under the law at the time it happened. The state court’s original determination that the cell phone search was proper was actually an unreasonable application of later Supreme Court precedent. The search was valid incident to arrest even though Riley wasn’t decided until three months later based on state precedent (applying California law at the time). It was also unreasonable for the state to apply inventory to a cell phone search. Therefore, the search would have been found valid, and the motion to suppress denied, and it’s not ineffective assistance of counsel to file a motion to suppress that would lose. Hudspath v. Garrett, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 208362 (D. Nev. Nov. 20, 2023).* [I admit this opinion confused me. Riley came along while the case was pending. Still, the good faith exception seemingly cures all ills.]

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