How Long Can Cops Handcuff People While Searching?


The U.S. Supreme Court today will examine the extent to which police can detain and question individuals while serving search warrants. The Los Angeles Times says the case stems from a 1998 search by Simi Valley, Ca., police for weapons at a suspected gang safe house after a drive-by shooting. Officers held four occupants in handcuffs for what they said was no more than two hours while the search was conducted. Resident Iris Mena, who was not a suspect claimed a violation of constitutional guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure. A federal jury awarding her $60,000.

“It’s a matter in dispute that has national importance,” said Simi Valley City Attorney David Hirsch. Duke Law School professor Erwin Chemerinsky, who will serve as co-counsel on behalf of Mena, said the jury verdict should stand. “This was an 18-year-old woman who was held in handcuffs for between two and three hours when she was never for a moment suspected of anything,” Chemerinsky said. “Her rights were violated.”


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