Dougherty, et al. v. City of Covina, et al., No. 09-56395 (9th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
This case arose when a student told a police officer that her teacher, plaintiff, inappropriately touched her and police subsequently searched plaintiff's home for child pornography. Plaintiff and his son sued the police officer, the City of Covina, and the Chief of Police for violating his constitutional rights, claiming that the city and the officers violated his and his son's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure; the city inadequately trained and inadequately investigated complaints about its officers (Monell claim); and all defendants inadequately supervised and trained their subordinates with respect to the incidents alleged. The court held that, under the totality of the circumstances, a search warrant issued to search a suspect's home computer and electronic equipment lacked probable cause when no evidence of possession or attempt to posses child pornography was submitted to the issuing magistrate; no evidence was submitted to the magistrate regarding computer or electronics used by the suspect; and the only evidence linking the suspect's attempted child molestation to possession of child pornography was the experience of the requesting police officer, with no further explanation. The court held, however, that it had not previously addressed such issues and therefore, the officers involved in the search were entitled to qualified immunity. The court also affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's Monell and supervisory liability claims where amending the complaint would be futile.