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Monroe v. Pape

An Energetic Mistake

While investigating a murder, the Chicago police conducted a warrantless search of the Monroe home. Their search techniques were unorthodox. Thirteen police officers broke into the Monroe house in the early morning hours, made every family member get out of bed and stand naked in the center of the living room, and ransacked the house looking for evidence of Mr. Monroe's involvement in the murder. The search included such actions as emptying drawers onto the floor and the ripping open of mattresses. Mr. Monroe was then taken to the police station and detained for ten hours without specific charges being brought against him. He was not brought before a magistrate at the onset of his ordeal, as was legally required, despite the fact that one was available at the station where he was detained. He was also not allowed to contact his attorney during his detention. Despite all this activity, the police were unable to uncover any evidence linking Mr. Monroe to the murder they were investigating, and were forced to release him without bringing any criminal charges against him.

The Monroe family was unwilling to let matters rest at this stage. They decided to pursue civil suits against the city of Chicago and the police officers under R.S. 1979. The city of Chicago and the individual defendants moved for and received a dismissal of the Monroes' claims in the district court. The case then proceeded to the court of appeals, which upheld the ruling of the district court. The U.S. Supreme Court then agreed to hear the case on a writ of certiorari, as the lower court rulings were seen as contradictory to earlier Supreme Court decisions in similar cases. The Court heard arguments in the matter on 8 November 1961.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1954 to 1962Monroe v. Pape - Significance, A Turbulent Time, An Energetic Mistake, Equal Protection And The States, Impact