In September 1998, in a unanimous decision, LBAC successfully argued City of West Covina v. Perkins, 525 U.S. 234 (1999) before the United States Supreme Court.
During the course of a murder investigation, Police officers of the City of West Covina seized Lawrence Perkins’s personal property from his home pursuant to a search warrant. The officers left a notice form specifying the facts of the search, its date, the searching agency, the date of the warrant, the issuing judge and his court, the persons to be contacted for information, and an itemized list of the seized property. The officers did not leave the search warrant number. Perkins filed suit after attempts to obtain the seized property failed. The District Court ultimately ruled in favor of the City. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court. It held that the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment required that Perkins be provided a detailed notice of available state procedures for the return of seized property and the information to be able to invoke the procedures, along with the information he was already provided.
In a decision authored by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process clause does not require police officers to provide property owners with information on how to recover their property when it has been seized pursuant to a search warrant. The Due Process clause only requires that officers inform property owners that something they own has been seized. Justice Kennedy noted the property owner could turn to public sources to learn about the available procedures for obtaining the return of his property.
Listen to oral arguments here OYEZ.org. Click on City of West Covina v. Perkins – Oral Argument (opens in a new window)