Because per curiam decisions are issued from the Court as an institution, these opinions all lack the attribution of authorship or joining votes to specific justices. All justices on the Court at the time the decision was handed down are assumed to have participated and concurred unless otherwise noted.
571 U.S. ___ Decided November 4, 2013.
A bystander was seriously injured when a police officer, in hot pursuit of a misdemeanor suspect, kicked open the gate to her yard. She sued the officer for violating her Fourth Amendment rights by his warrantless entry into the curtilage of her property, but the district court held that the officer was entitled to qualified immunity and granted him summary judgment. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed, ruling that there was no basis for warrantless entry because there were no exigent circumstances and the fleeing suspect's alleged offense was minor.
The Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit, finding that the officer was entitled to qualified immunity because there was not "clearly established law" on the issue. Instead, federal and state courts were "sharply divided on the question whether an officer with probable cause to arrest a suspect for a misdemeanor may enter a home without a warrant while in hot pursuit of that suspect." The officer could, therefore, not be found "plainly incompetent" in violating the plaintiff's constitutional rights.