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Civil Rights — search and seizure

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit


Civil Rights — search and seizure — warrantless entry

An accidental entry, or an accidental breaking of a door, which exposes the interior, followed by a glance unrelated to any interest in contraband or other evidence of crime, followed by an immediate withdrawal, is not a search.

“The error in equating seeing with searching is especially patent with respect to the other defendant, officer Murphy. It was he who climbing the stairs behind Beckman shouted ‘wrong door.’ When he reached the top of the stairs the door to Balthazar’s apartment was open. Murphy saw the interior of the apartment through the open door. He knew it was the wrong apartment; it wasn’t his fault that the door was open and that when you face an open door you see into the interior. If you know you’re in the wrong place—a place you’re not authorized to search or want to search—the unavoidable glance through the open door is not a search.”


12-3378 Balthazar v. City of Chicago

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Darrah, J., Posner, J.

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