ANALYSIS OF A 15 YEAR OLD CASE . . . LOS ANGELES V. RETTELE: THE SUPREME COURT’S MISSING TOTALITY OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES
Written by William Lawton*
Imagine you and your partner moved into a home together months ago. One morning, as you two slept in your bed naked, you are awakened by the shock that the police are in your home and command you to leave your bed. The police deny you the opportunity to get dressed and continue to hold you at gunpoint as they search for people you do not know and who are not in your home. After searching for minutes but finding nothing, the officers apologize for the inconvenience and leave as if what just transpired was a minor inconvenience. While you may feel what happened to you was, at a minimum, grossly negligent police conduct that violated your constitutional right to be secure in your own home, the law would not be on your side. Based on the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision in City of Los Angeles v. Rettele, the mistake was reasonable, the manner you and your partner were detained was reasonable, and therefore your Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures in your home was not violated.
This article examines the infringement on Fourth Amendment rights created by Rettele. Section II discusses factual background and procedural history of Rettele. Section III(A) discusses the Supreme Court’s per curiam holding. Section IV(A) concludes that the Supreme Court did not conduct a totality of the circumstances analysis and the Court of Appeals’ did. Section IV(B) discusses the consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision in Rettele.