Sunday, November 6, 2011

Camreta v. Greene, 131 S.Ct. 2020 (2011); Reversed;, Green v. Camreta, remanded

The plaintiff filed a Fourth Amendment violation and 42 U.S.C. 1983 Complaint against a County human resources employee and a deputy sheriff who interviewed a student on school premises to determine whether she had been sexually molested. The 9th Circuit held that the Fourth Amendment requires police to obtain a search warrant before interviewing a student in school who had alleged a sexual violation, but no liability attached on grounds the officers were entitled to qualified immunity; Green v. Camreta, 588 F.3d 1011 (9th Cir. 2009). The Supreme Court granted cert. on the Fourth Amendment issue only.
The Justices, stunned at oral argument to understand the Fourth Amendment basis for this decision, realized if it refused to decide the case already resolved in favor of the officers by qualified immunity, the principle announced by the 9th Circuit requiring a warrant to seize and search the student would stand. Carving an exception to its general rule in avoiding Constitutional issues unless necessary, the Supreme Court vacated the Fourth Amendment decision, despite the officers having prevailed on immunity, in order to avoid the underlying 9th Circuit rationale to become precedent in this case mandating a search warrant. Camreta v. Greene, 131 S.Ct. 2020 (2011).
On remand, the 9th Circuit insisted on allowing the plaintiff to proceed without the Fourth Amendment issue but could continue its 1983 case; Greene v. Camreta, 2011WL 514333 (9th Cir. 2011.    Without the Fourth Amendment issue, and the defendants prevailing on qualified immunity, there is nothing left to this case.  Yet the 9th Circuit panel remanded the case to the District  Court on the 1983 case, again evading a clear Supreme Court decision and wasting judicial resources.   

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