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Name: In re Elizabeth G.
Case #: H020724
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/12/2001
Subsequent History: Rev. den. 7/11/01

An attorney’s failure to argue grounds for a warrantless search did not prejudice the minor because the search was justified by exigent circumstances. After picking up the minor’s brother as a suspect in a recent drive-by shooting, officers entered the minor’s residence for the purpose of securing it, believing the weapons involved would be found inside the home. The minor was acting oddly and kept asking to do her laundry. After obtaining a warrant, the laundry basket was searched and the weapons were found. The minor argued she received ineffective assistance of counsel at the motion to suppress based on counsel’s failure to argue the lack of exigency for the initial warrantless entry. The standards for a temporary seizure of a home while police obtain a search warrant were addressed in Illinois v. McArthur (2001) 531 U.S. 326. The McArthur court upheld a warrantless entry based on “a plausible claim of specially pressing or urgent law enforcement need, i.e., ‘exigent circumstances’.” Here the police had reasons to fear that someone in the home would destroy the evidence before a warrant could be obtained, the seizure lasted only a limited time, and weapons were not found in the car with the brother at the time of his arrest.