Duke student clinic wins Fourth Circuit case | News
News
INDY Week's news blog

Archives | RSS

Monday, February 23, 2015

Duke student clinic wins Fourth Circuit case

Posted by on Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 12:25 PM

Duke University's Appellate Litigation Clinic, which relies on the work of law school students, won an appeal brought to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers North Carolina.

The case centers on what's known in legal terms as "curtilage" — the land immediately surrounding and associated with homes, such as an outdoor patio, which is protected from government intrusion. In an opinion issued last month in U.S. v. Christopher and Lela Covey, a three-member panel of Fourth Circuit judges declared that a law enforcement search of the Coveys' private backyard patio was unconstitutional without a warrant. 

The Coveys live in a privately set home in the rural village of Valley Grove, W.Va. In 2009, a law enforcement search turned up marijuana, and Christopher Covey was charged with manufacturing marijuana. He was sentenced to one to five years of home confinement. 

In 2011, the Coveys sued several county officials, including the sheriff, arguing that by entering their private patio, law enforcement agents violated their 4th Amendment rights. The District Court out of West Virginia dismissed their complaint, prompting the Coveys' appeal.

On Oct. 21, 2009, a deputy for the county tax assessor entered the Coveys' property to collect data to assess their home's value. The home was protected by trees and "No Trespassing" signs along their private driveway. Finding no one inside, the tax assessor searched the backyard patio, where he found marijuana. He contacted the the county sheriff. Two law enforcement agents went to the home to investigate. They parked their car in the Coveys' private driveway, entered the patio and saw Christopher Covey at his workbench. After obtaining a search warrant, the officers seized evidence and arrested the Coveys.  

The county argued that the search was tantamount to the "knock-and-talk" technique, which doesn't violate the 4th Amendment. The officers claimed that they were justified in bypassing the front door because they saw Christopher Covey on the patio. 

But the Coveys argued that the only way for the officers to have observed Covey at his workbench was if they were standing directly on the patio, where they had no legal right to be. And the Court of Appeals agreed. "[T]he right to knock and talk does not entail a right to conduct a general investigation on a home's curtilage," Circuit Judge Henry F. Floyd wrote in the opinion. 

The Duke students worked on the case during the last academic year. It was argued to the circuit judges last October by clinic director Sean Andrussier. 
Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News



Twitter Activity

Comments

Celebrate this Christmas season with joy and gladness in your heart...

Good day, I would like to bring this …

by Funding Circleplc on Durham City Council Votes to Provide Grants to Some Southside Residents Struggling with Property Tax Bills (News)

I do believe the women that accused Trump and Moore. However, I have a problem believing the women who have …

by Corinne Hayes on Dammit, Al Franken (News)

Most Recent Comments

Celebrate this Christmas season with joy and gladness in your heart...

Good day, I would like to bring this …

by Funding Circleplc on Durham City Council Votes to Provide Grants to Some Southside Residents Struggling with Property Tax Bills (News)

I do believe the women that accused Trump and Moore. However, I have a problem believing the women who have …

by Corinne Hayes on Dammit, Al Franken (News)

FWIW. the idea that "IBMA fans would welcome the chance to rent out someone's extra rooms" is not hypothetical.

by Gregg Stebben on As Gaylord and Baldwin Leave, Raleigh City Council Nixes Short-Term Rental Plan Again (News)

Charlotte, (and Raleigh) two of the worst places in the country for economic mobility. If you are born poor, you …

by Black Raleigh on One of Three North Carolina Regions Could Land Amazon's HQ2, CNBC Analysis Says (News)

"...a heritage of innovation dating back to the Wright Brothers." Yes indeed. Especially compared to the lack of innovation required …

by citizenshame on One of Three North Carolina Regions Could Land Amazon's HQ2, CNBC Analysis Says (News)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation