Court: Can police detain without warrant?

The Supreme Court will decide whether police can follow and detain a suspect while they wait for a search warrant, even after the suspect leaves the area that the police want to search.

The high court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal from Chunon Bailey, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison on drug and weapons charges.

Bailey left a building with an apartment that police wanted to search for a gun before the warrant arrived. An unmarked police car followed Bailey for more than a mile, and police detained him and brought him back to the building. The warrant arrived, police found drugs and weapons and arrested Bailey, who had an apartment key in his pocket.

Bailey said police unconstitutionally stopped him on the street and brought him back to the apartment. But the trial judge ruled that if police could detain someone who was leaving a place during a search, then police could also follow someone who has left the place being searched and bring them back.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to throw out his conviction, but other federal appeals courts have ruled that police cannot follow and detain people just to bring them back to a place that has not been searched yet. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the fall.

The case is Bailey v. United States, 11-770.