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case

Occupational Licensure SWAT Raid Violates Fourth Amendment Rights

Decided
Tue, 09/16/2014

Berry, et al. v. Leslie, et al.: Plaintiff and plaintiff-appellants are employees at a barber shop in Orange County. On August 19, 2011, two plain clothes representatives of law enforcement entered the shop to ensure the barbers were properly licensed. This meeting went smoothly and the officials found no violations. Two days later, two plain clothes officers entered the shop again, and shortly after, a SWAT-like raid occurred at the barber shop. This action was part of a month-long planned operation to crack down on occupational licensing violations. Barbers were handcuffed and detained while their licenses, and the shop, were inspected. The plaintiffs did not obstruct the officers’ actions. Again, after no violations were found, the officers and SWAT teams simply left the premises. Plaintiffs claim their Fourth Amendment rights protecting against unreasonable search were violated; the officers claimed qualified immunity. District court rejected the officers’ qualified immunity.

Decision

Circuit court affirms: plaintiffs’ rights were violated and the officers are denied qualified immunity. Circuit court invokes Swint v. City of Wadley and Bruce v. Beary.

Read the full decision here