The plaintiff in this 1983 civil suit (Lane) was a parolee who violated the terms of his parole by staying in a hotel in Fort Smith, Arkansas. His parole officer asked for LEO assistance and then went to the hotel to find Lane. They obtained the help from a hotel worker and went into Lane’s room without knocking or announcing. In the room, they found Lane in bed with a woman and also found drugs and a handgun. Lane was charged with drug and firearm offenses and sought to have the evidence excluded as the product of unlawful search and seizure because the officers did not knock and announce their presence before entering the hotel room. In the criminal case, the Arkansas Supreme Court held the officers violated Lane’s Fourth Amendment rights, but they extended the exception in the United States Supreme Court decision in Hudson v. Michigan, 547 U.S. 586 (2006), and decided not to apply the exclusionary rule to the evidence the officers seized.

Lane then brought this 1983 civil suit against the officers. The officers were granted qualified immunity at the District Court level and Lane appealed to Eighth Circuit. Using the two-prong Pearson test, the court held that even if the failure to knock and announce constituted a Fourth Amendment violation, neither the US Supreme Court nor the Arkansas Supreme Court had ever determined if the knock and announce rules apply to parolees. Since the law was not “clearly established” in this area, the officers were entitled to qualified immunity.

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