Gant v. County of Los Angeles

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 11-24-2014
  • Case #: 12-56080
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Christen for the Court; Circuit Judges Thomas and M. Smith
  • Full Text Opinion

Warrants must satisfy the Fourth Amendment’s particularity requirement by containing the subject’s name and a detailed physical description.

Kelvin Gant and Jose Alexander Ventura were arrested and detained separately “based on warrants intended for other people.” Gant was arrested after “police ran a warrant check in the course of questioning Gant about allegedly attempting to fraudulently obtain a refund for a movie ticket.” The warrant was “issued for his non-identical twin brother, Kevin Gant.” Ventura was arrested after a warrant check was conducted during “a minor traffic violation” stop. A description of the warrant subject was given to police by the dispatcher and listed the subject “as a Hispanic male who was 6’1” tall, weighed 200 pounds, and had black hair and brown eyes.” Ventura’s driver’s license, which was shown to the officers, “indicated he was 5’6” tall and weighed 180 pounds.” Police questioned Ventura during the stop, and audio recording indicated that “Ventura agree[ed] with an officer’s suggestion that he [was] 5’11”.” Gant and Ventura filed suit against the various police departments involved claiming mistaken identity and violations of their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The district court ruled against Gant and Ventura on all their claims through orders of dismissal and orders of summary judgment. Gant and Ventura appealed, and the Ninth Circuit reviewed the district court’s orders. The panel determined that an issue of fact was present regarding whether Ventura complained of mistaken identity to police and whether the police questioning was coercion. The panel therefore reversed the district court’s order on that related claim. However, the panel determined the district court ruled properly in the other claims mainly since the warrants satisfied “the Fourth Amendment’s particularity requirement [by] ‘contain[ing] both the subject’s name and a detailed physical description.’” REVERSED in part, AFFIRMED in part, and REMAND.

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