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Friday, April 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Standoff Case Headed Back To 9th Circuit

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The full 9th Circuit has agreed to rehear the constitutional claims of a San Jose resident who was arrested without a warrant outside his apartment after a 12-hour standoff with police.

A split panel ruled in January 2007 that police had violated the Fourth Amendment rights of plaintiff Steven Fisher, whose night of drinking two 12-packs of beer while watching the 1999 World Series and cleaning his rifle collection ended in a showdown with more than 60 officers.

Around midnight a security guard at Fisher's apartment complex stopped by his apartment to investigate noise complaints about a neighbor. Fisher stepped out to talk to him while carrying one of his World War II-era rifles. The guard, uncomfortable with the alcohol-rifle combination, called police.

A fleet of officers arrived, but Fisher refused to let anyone into his house and "spoke in a rambling fashion of his Second Amendment rights," the panel ruling states.

After negotiation failed, an emergency response team was called in around 7 a.m. to replace the officers. Fisher finally emerged from his house and was taken into custody around 2:30 p.m. He was tried for the felony of pointing a rifle at an officer, but later pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor of brandishing a firearm around a security officer.

A jury found for the defendants in Fisher's civil case against the city. The trial judge granted his motion for judgment as a matter of law on the warrantless-arrest claim, and the 2-1 appellate judges affirmed. Judge Callahan dissented, saying the issue had already been decided by the jury.

The 9th Circuit has agreed to rehear the decision en banc.

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