When a party goes wrong and leads all the way to the Supreme Court
District of Columbia v. Wesby
District of Columbia police officers responded to a complaint about loud music and illegal activities in a vacant house. Inside, they found the house nearly barren and in disarray.
The officers smelled marijuana and observed beer bottles and cups of liquor on the floor, which was dirty. They found a make-shift strip club in the living room, and a naked woman and several men in an upstairs bedroom. Many partygoers scattered when they saw the uniformed officers, and some hid. The officers questioned everyone and got inconsistent stories. Two women identified as the home’s tenant “Peaches”. Peaches statedthat she had given the partygoers permission to have the party but she was not there. When the officers spoke by phone to Peaches, she was nervous, agitated, and evasive.
At first, she claimed that she was renting the house and had given the partygoers permission to have the party, but she eventually admitted that she did not have permission to use the house. The owner confirmed that he had not given anyone permission to be there. The officers then arrested the partygoers for unlawful entry.
Several partygoers including Wesby sued the District of Columbia for false arrest under the Fourth Amendment and District law. The District Court then concluded that the officers lacked probable cause to arrest the partygoers for unlawful entry and that two of the officers, petitioners could be held responsible.
The District of Columbia petitioned this case to the Supreme Court Justices who ruled unanimously in favor of DC. The Supreme Court Justices felt the police were warranted in their arrest, and that some type of criminal activity was taking place. With this ruling the police officers would be immune to any of Peaches or her friend’s lawsuits unless actions were deemed unlawful. Justice Thomas, Justice Ginsburg and Justice Sotomayor authored majority opinions