Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Case to be Heard

 Caniglia v. Strong, et al.  The police responded to a concerned wife worried about her husband possibly committing suicide. The actual provoking incident sounds more like a nasty argument advanced to a hyperbolic exclamation:

He had been married to his wife Kim Caniglia for 22 years when, on August 20, 2015, they had a disagreement inside their Cranston, Rhode Island home. See id.; Pet.App.53a. When the argument escalated, Petitioner went into the bedroom and retrieved an unloaded gun. Pet.App.53a. He returned to the living room and, in a dramatic gesture, put the gun on the table and said, “why don’t you just shoot me and get me out of my misery.” Id. When Mrs. Caniglia threatened to call 911, Petitioner left the home. Id. Mrs. Caniglia did not call 911. Id. 

 But the argument continued when Petitioner returned home. Id. at 54a. So Mrs. Caniglia decided to spend the night at a motel. Id.The next day, Mrs. Caniglia tried to call her husband. Id. When he did not answer, she became worried and called the Cranston police. Id. She asked the police to make a “well call” to check on Petitioner and to escort her home. Id. When multiple officers arrived to meet her, Mrs. Caniglia told them what had happened and that she was concerned about her husband’s safety—including the possibility that he could be suicidal. Id.

After calling Petitioner, who “sounded fine,” the officers escorted Mrs. Caniglia back to the home, where they instructed her to stay in the car while they spoke with Petitioner on the back deck. Id. at 55a. Petitioner told the officers about what had happened, and that he had said “just shoot me” because he “couldn’t take it anymore.” Id. “He was calm for the most part,” “seemed normal,” and said “that he would never commit suicide.” Id. Mrs. Caniglia then entered the home. Id.

Police took Caniglia to a mental hospital who released him the same day.  Police, contrary to an agreement in which Caniglia had gone to the hospital, had confiscated his guns.  The core question here is whether the power of police to search a car after an accident (what is called a "caretaking function") extends to a home searched without a warrant.  It appears most courts have held it does not.

Petitioner alleged, by way of § 1983 claims, that Defendants had violated his rights under the Second Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. 

This will likely be determined as a 4th Amendment case, but we can hope for a 2nd Amendment statement as well. 

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