August 29, 2014

Tenth Circuit: Entering Closed Gate and Onto Unpaved Driveway that Lays a Considerable Distance from Owner’s Home Not Within Curtilage to Require Warrant

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Rieck v. Jensen on Thursday, June 30, 2011.

The Tenth Circuit reversed the district court’s decision. Petitioner, a Utah County Deputy Sheriff, entered a closed gate on Respondent’s property without a warrant; Petitioner walked onto a portion of an unpaved driveway within a few feet of the entrance gate, but a considerable distance from Respondent’s home. Respondent brought suit against Petitioner, alleging illegal entry, illegal detention, and excessive force. The district court denied Petitioner qualified immunity for entering the property without a warrant. However, the Court disagreed. The area of Respondent’s property that Petitioner entered was found to be not within the curtilage of Respondent’s home; Petitioner could therefore enter without violating Respondent’s constitutional rights and is protected by qualified immunity.

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