California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

3003. Unreasonable Search - Search Without a Warrant— Essential Factual Elements (42 U.S.C. § 1983)

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of defendant] carried out an unreasonable search of [his/her] [person/home/automobile/office/ [insert other]] because [he/she] did not have a warrant. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

1. That [name of defendant] searched [name of plaintiff]'s [person/home/automobile/office/[insert other]];

2. That [name of defendant] did not have a warrant;

3. That [name of defendant] was acting or purporting to act in the performance of [his/her] official duties;

4. That [name of plaintiff] was harmed; and

5. That [name of defendant]'s search was a substantial factor in causing [name of plaintiff]'s harm.

Directions for Use

The "official duties" referred to in element 3 must be duties created pursuant to any state, county, or municipal law, ordinance, or regulation. This aspect of color of law most likely will not be an issue for the jury, so it has been omitted to shorten the wording of element 3.

Sources and Authority

"The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, provides: 'The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.' " (Conway v. Pasadena Humane Society (1996) 45 Cal.App.4th 163, 171 [52 Cal.Rptr.2d 777], internal citation omitted.)

" 'The Fourth Amendment prohibits only unreasonable searches. . . . [¶] The test of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment is not apable of precise definition or mechanical application. In each case it requires a balancing of the need for the particular search against the invasion of personal rights that the search entails. Courts must consider the scope of the particular intrusion, the manner in which it is conducted, the justification for initiating it, and the place in which it is conducted.' " (Sacramento County Deputy Sheriffs' Assn. v. County of Sacramento (1996) 51 Cal.App.4th 1468, 1477 [59 Cal.Rptr.2d 834], internal citation omitted.)

" 'It is settled doctrine that probable cause for belief that certain articles subject to seizure are in a dwelling cannot of itself justify a search without a warrant.' Thus, a warrantless entry into a residence is presumptively unreasonable and therefore unlawful. Government officials 'bear a heavy burden when attempting to demonstrate an urgent need that might justify warrantless searches or arrests.' " (Conway, supra, 45 Cal.App.4th at p. 172, internal citations omitted.)

"The Supreme Court has interpreted the phrase 'under "color" of law' to mean 'under "pretense" of law.' A police officer's actions are under pretense of law only if they are 'in some way "related to the performance of his official duties.' " By contrast, an officer who is ' "pursuing his own goals and is not in any way subject to control by [his public employer],' " does not act under color of law, unless he 'purports or pretends' to do so. Officers who engage in confrontations for personal reasons unrelated to law enforcement, and do not 'purport[] or pretend[]' to be officers, do not act under color of law." (Huffman v. County of Los Angeles (9th Cir. 1998) 147 F.3d 1054, 1058, internal citations omitted.)

"[P]rivate parties ordinarily are not subject to suit under section 1983, unless, sifting the circumstances of the particular case, the state has so significantly involved itself in the private conduct that the private parties may fairly be termed state actors. Among the factors considered are whether the state subsidized or heavily regulated the conduct, or compelled or encouraged the particular conduct, whether the private actor was performing a function which normally is performed exclusively by the state, and whether there was a symbiotic relationship rendering the conduct joint state action." (Robbins v. Hamburger Home for Girls (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 671, 683 [38 Cal.Rptr.2d 534], internal citations omitted.)

"Private parties act under color of state law if they willfully participate in joint action with state officials to deprive others of constitutional rights. Private parties involved in such a conspiracy may be liable nder section 1983." (United Steelworkers of America v. Phelps Dodge Corp. (9th Cir. 1989) 865 F.2d 1539, 1540, internal citations omitted.)

Secondary Sources

8 Witkin, Summary of California Law (9th ed. 1988) Constitutional Law, § 706 et seq.

3 Civil Rights Actions, Ch. 10, Deprivation of Rights Under Color of State Law—Law Enforcement and Prosecution, ¶ 10.04 (Matthew Bender)

3 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 35, Civil Rights (Matthew Bender)

(New September 2003)