Robinson Bradshaw Files Amicus Brief for Cato Institute in U.S. Supreme Court



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Sept. 21, 2015

Robinson Bradshaw attorneys Adam K. Doerr and Erik R. Zimmerman filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Cato Institute in the U.S. Supreme Court in Kane v. Lewis, a case that raises important questions regarding the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The case arises from the death of Andrew Cornish, who was killed when a SWAT team in Cambridge, Maryland, raided his apartment at 4:30 a.m. after finding traces of marijuana in garbage cans outside the building. Cornish was shot by police when he emerged from his bedroom in his underwear, moments after the police broke down his door.

The amicus brief explains that Kane v. Lewis is representative of a broader and troubling trend in which police increasingly conduct military-style raids to investigate minor, nonviolent offenses — often leading to violent confrontations and tragic consequences.

“This case presents an opportunity for the Supreme Court to send an important message to police and the lower courts,” said Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow at Cato who directs the Institute’s amicus brief program. “The unnecessary and dangerous use of paramilitary tactics has become far too common, and the Court should clarify that police can be held accountable under the Fourth Amendment.”

The brief argues that the growing use of these tactics is sharply at odds with the core principles of the Fourth Amendment, including the knock-and-announce rule and the requirement that all searches and seizures be reasonable. It urges the Court to reverse the decision of the Fourth Circuit, which set aside a jury verdict that awarded damages to Cornish’s father based on the police’s violation of the Fourth Amendment.

See Related Materials below to read the brief in full.

Doerr represents companies and individuals in appeals, class actions, shareholder litigation and other complex commercial litigation at Robinson Bradshaw. He is a member of the North Carolina Appellate Rules Committee and attended law school at Duke University, where he was editor-in-chief of the Duke Law Journal. Doerr served as law clerk for Judge Stanley Marcus of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Zimmerman is a commercial and appellate litigator with the firm’s Triangle Office. He previously served as a law clerk for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Zimmerman graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College as a Phi Beta Kappa and earned his law degree with distinction from Stanford University.

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