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.