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Hopkins v. Bonvicino

Our previous case of Hopkins v. Bonvicino has shaken the world of Police Misconduct and Civil Rights. We represented Bruce Hopkins arising out of violation of his civil rights by various San Carlos police officers. Mr. Hopkins was coming home from work when he was involved in a minor traffic incident, and he was followed home by another driver. She called the San Carlos police and reported an accident and that Mr. Hopkins had been drinking. Mr. Hopkins was in his home, and the officers had no legal reason to enter the house because they had done no investigation to determine if anything had indeed happened. The officers got creative, however, and decided that because the lady had said she smelled alcohol on Mr. Hopkins' breath that this was possibly, in their minds, a medical emergency and that Mr. Hopkins might need assistance. On that basis, the officers broke into his home and searched with guns drawn. When they found him, they did not check on his welfare; they arrested Mr. Hopkins at gunpoint. As a result, Mr. Hopkins lost his job and was severely traumatized.

We successfully opposed the police officer's claim of reasonable cause, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with our argument that the entry and arrest were a pretext for actions which violate Mr. Hopkins’ rights. This case significantly alters prior civil rights law in this area, and may be argued in the United States Supreme Court in the near future. The full text of the appellate decision can be seen at Hopkins v. Bonvicino, 573 F.3d 752 (9th Cir. 2009).

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