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.”