Submitted: March 7, 2019
Appeals from United States District Court for the Western
District of Arkansas - Ft. Smith
BENTON, MELLOY, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.
MELLOY, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
state prisoner Adam Lane sued his former parole officer, Adam
Nading, and a Fort Smith police officer, Joseph Boyd,
(collectively, the "officers") under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for allegedly violating his Fourth Amendment
right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. He
claimed that the officers failed to knock and announce their
presence before entering his hotel room, seizing narcotics
and a gun, and arresting him while he was on parole. The
district court denied Nading's motion for judgment on the
pleadings and Boyd's motion to dismiss on the grounds
that the officers were not entitled to qualified immunity.
The officers appeal. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1291, we reverse.
following facts are taken from Lane's amended complaint
and the documents he references therein-namely, his original
complaint and the Arkansas Supreme Court opinion upholding
his conviction. We accept these facts as true and view them
in the light most favorable to Lane. See Stanley v.
Finnegan, 899 F.3d 623, 625 (8th Cir. 2018) (setting
forth the standard of review on "[a]n interlocutory
order denying a motion to dismiss based on qualified
was on parole in Arkansas in January 2015. As part of his
conditions of release from the Arkansas Department of
Corrections, Lane consented to warrantless searches and
seizures of his "person, place of residence, and motor
vehicles." Lane v. State, 513 S.W.3d 230, 233
(Ark. 2017). Lane appeared for his initial parole intake with
Nading but subsequently failed to report, a violation of his
same month, Lane committed another violation of his release
conditions: He began staying at a hotel in Fort Smith. The
hotel was not his primary residence, and he did not receive
prior authorization from Nading before staying there. Nading
learned that Lane was staying at the hotel and went with Boyd
to find Lane.
officers enlisted a hotel worker to open Lane's door for
them. Without knocking and announcing their presence, they
entered the room. Inside, they found Lane asleep with a
female companion. They also found drugs and a handgun. The
officers arrested Lane, who signed an affidavit declaring
that the drugs were his.
was convicted in state court of multiple drug charges and
simultaneous possession of a firearm. He received a sentence
of 70 years' imprisonment. He appealed to the Arkansas
Supreme Court, which affirmed. See id. at 237.
Relevant to this case, the Arkansas Supreme Court held that
the officers violated Lane's Fourth Amendment right to be
free from unreasonable searches and seizures because they did
not knock and announce their presence before entering the
subsequently brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
After Lane amended his complaint, the officers filed their
answer. Along with the answer, Nading filed a motion for
judgment on the pleadings, and Boyd filed a motion to
dismiss. Both argued that they: (1) were immune from
liability in their official capacities under the doctrine of
sovereign immunity; and (2) were immune from liability in
their individual capacities under the doctrine of qualified
immunity because they had not violated any of Lane's
clearly established constitutional rights.
district court granted the officers' motions in part and
denied them in part. Regarding the official-capacity claims,
the district court held that the doctrine of sovereign
immunity applied, so the officers could not be sued.
Regarding the individual-capacity claims, the district court
said that "there appear[ed] to be a consensus of both
binding and persuasive federal law prior to January 27, 2015,
that a failure to knock and announce is a violation of the
Fourth Amendment absent a reasonable suspicion of exigency or
futility." The district court pointed to a Seventh
Circuit case, Green v. Butler, 420 F.3d 689 (7th
Cir. 2005), and said that Green "held that a
failure to knock and announce is not waived when a parolee
has signed an agreement permitting warrantless
searches." Finally, the district court said that the
officers had "conceded that there was no exigency."
The district court determined "that [the officers']
actions were unconstitutional." "[W]ithout
sufficient information" to determine at that time
whether the officers' actions on the day of the search
"were those of ...