Federalist Society SCOTUScast
About This Show
SCOTUScast is a project of the Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies. This audio broadcast series provides expert commentary on U.S. Supreme Court cases as they are argued and issued. The Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker. We hope these broadcasts, like all of our programming, will serve to stimulate discussion and further exchange regarding important current legal issues. View our entire SCOTUScast archive at http://www.federalistsociety.org/SCOTUScast.
Most Recent Episode
White v. Pauly - Post-Decision SCOTUScast
On January 9, 2017, the Supreme Court decided White v. Pauly, a petition involving a denial of qualified immunity to law enforcement officers in a civil rights dispute. In October 2011, officers Kevin Truesdale and Michael Mariscal went to the home of Daniel and Samuel Pauly to investigate a complaint made by several drivers that Daniel had been driving erratically that evening. The officers entered the Pauly property while a third officer, Ray White, remained near the highway in case Daniel returned there. Truesdale and Mariscal did not find Daniel’s truck, but they did notice lights on in one of two houses on the property. Upon approaching the building covertly they spotted two men moving around inside, and then requested that Officer White join them. When the Paulys became aware that strangers were present outside there was a verbal confrontation; according to the officers, the officers self-identified as police and threatened to enter the house if the brothers did not come out. It appears however, that neither Pauly heard the self-identification. Just as White was arriving the brothers warned that they had firearms. Upon hearing the warning, White took cover behind a stone wall fifty feet from the house. Daniel then fired two shotgun blasts out the back door and when Samuel pointed a handgun out the window in White’s direction, Mariscal fired at him but missed. Several seconds later White also fired and hit Samuel, killing him. Samuel Pauly’s estate and Daniel Pauly sued the officers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging an excessive use of force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The district court denied qualified immunity to the officers and a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed. The majority reasoned that, taking the plaintiffs’ version of the facts as true, a reasonable person in the position of Officers Mariscal and Truesdale should have understood that their conduct might cause the Paulys to use deadly force in defense of their home. As to Officer White, the majority concluded that while he did not participate in much of the lead up to the shootout, a reasonable officer in his position would have believed a verbal warning was required given that the stone wall afforded him secure cover. -- The Supreme Court granted the officers’ petition for certiorari, vacated the judgment of the Tenth Circuit, and remanded the case. Qualified immunity attaches when an official’s conduct “does not violate cle