Messerschmidt v. Millender Decided

October 21, 2011

Whether a police officer can be held liable for executing a search warrant when it is objectively unreasonable to believe that the warrant is supported by probable cause.

The police in this case obtained a warrant to search plaintiffs’ home looking for a weapon used in a domestic abuse incident. The terms of the warrant they sought and obtained, however, authorized the police to search for all weapons in the home, among other things. The question in the case is whether a reasonable officer under the circumstances would have understood that the broad language of the warrant was not supported by probable cause, and whether that is the appropriate standard for imposing liability as the Supreme Court previously held in a 1986 case called Malley v. Briggs.

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