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Name: Michigan v. Fisher
Case #: Sep-91
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 12/07/2009
Subsequent History: 130 S.Ct. 546; 175 L.Ed.2d 410
Summary

The Michigan Court of Appeals misapplied the emergency-aid exception identified in Brigham City v. Stuart (2006) 547 U.S. 398, by replacing an objective inquiry into appearances with its hindsight determination that there was in fact no emergency. Officers responded to a call about a domestic disturbance. Upon arrival, they saw a parked truck with blood splatters and a smashed windshield. Three windows to the house were also broken. Through the windows, officers could hear Fisher screaming and throwing things, and could see his hand was cut. When officers asked him if he needed help, he told them to get a warrant. The Michigan courts affirmed the granting of a motion to suppress, but the high court reversed. A straightforward application of the emergency-aid exception dictates that the entry was reasonable. Like in Brigham City, police here were responding to a report of a disturbance and when they arrived on the scene they found a tumultuous situation in the house. In this case, they also found signs of a recent injury, perhaps from a car accident, outside. And like in Brigham City, the officers could see violent behavior inside. While the officers did not see punches thrown as the officers in Brigham City did, they did see Fisher screaming and throwing things. It would be objectively reasonable to believe that Fisher’s projectiles might have a human target (maybe a spouse or a child), or that he would hurt himself in the course of his rage. In short, the officer’s entry was reasonable under the emergency-aid exception.