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Wilson v. Layne


Deputy U.S. Marshals attempted to execute an arrest warrant for Dominic Wilson at his last know place of residence. Unbeknownst to the Deputy Marshals, the address was actually that of his parents. The arrest team invited a newspaper photographer and reporter to accompany them on the execution of the arrest warrant. The Deputy Marshals entered Wilson’s parents’ home in a futile effort to arrest him. The reporter and photographer also entered the home, and the photographer took many pictures of the event. After learning that the subject of the warrant was not at the premises, the Deputy Marshals and the newspaper reporter and photographer left the premises. The Wilsons sued the Deputy Marshals in a Bivens action for violating their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.


Whether the inclusion of third parties on the arrest team that do not assist in the execution of a warrant is unreasonable?


Yes. A warrant only authorizes third parties to enter a premises that will assist in the purpose of the intrusion.


The Court found no problem with the Deputy Marshals’ entry into the dwelling to execute an arrest warrant. However, the intrusion that an arrest warrant allows is limited in scope to making an arrest. The government could not state a valid claim for the intrusion into the private home of a newspaper reporter and photographer as they in no way assisted in the objective of the arrest warrant. Therefore, the Court held their participation to be an unreasonable intrusion, and prohibited by the Fourth Amendment.


526 U.S. 603, 119 S. Ct. 1692 (1999)

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