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The Providence Journal: Cranston will pay $250K to man for warrantless home search, gun seizure

Mark Reynolds, The Providence Journal
CRANSTON, RI— The city will pay almost $250,000 in damages and attorneys fees to a Cranston gun owner who prevailed in a legal battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2021, the high court rejected Cranston's argument that police could search Edward Caniglia's home without a warrant, and also without his consent, as part of a "wellness check."

Police had searched Caniglia's home in 2015 and seized two guns after his wife told them she had concerns about his mental health.

Edward Caniglia with lawyers Rhiannon Selina Huffman and Thomas W. Lyons III, whom he refers to as his "heroes."

Police held the guns for 'safe keeping'

Caniglia received a mental-health evaluation at Kent Hospital and he was released, but police held onto the guns for "safe keeping" and they told Caniglia he would need a court order to get them back.

In 2019, a judge in U.S. District Court, Providence, found that the confiscation of the guns violated Caniglia's due-process rights.

Then, in May of last year, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected Cranston's arguments that the Police Department's search of Caniglia's home was legal as a "community caretaking" function.

Supreme Court findings

The Fourth Amendment includes an exception with that language. But the high court has determined that it only applies to searches of cars impounded by police and it does not allow a warrantless search of a person's home.

Based on that decision, Caniglia's lawyers negotiated a $250,000 settlement with Cranston. The vast majority of the money will cover attorneys' fees and costs, but the arrangement entitles Caniglia to a $31,000 check.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island argued the case on Caniglia's behalf. The ACLU's executive director, Steven Brown, said Monday that Caniglia's legal battle "has ended up protecting privacy rights across the country.”

"This was a case going to the very core of the Fourth Amendment’s protection of privacy in the home from police intrusion," Brown said. "The city’s position, if it prevailed, could have given police free rein to enter homes without probable cause or a warrant, whenever they deemed it ‘reasonable’ to do so."

Maybe the ACLU will suddenly realize that challenging government overreach in the firearms world can be profitable.

Nice is overrated

"It's every freedom-loving individual's duty to lie to the government."
Airsoftguy, June 29, 2018
Posts: 31304 | Location: Loudoun County, Virginia | Registered: May 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Late to the party, but I don't think this suit will mean very much because cities like Cranston have annual budgets in excess of $311M.

A 250K suit is 0.08% of the city's annual budget and it took six years to litigate. Just over 0.013% of the budget, so from a risk management perspective, it's a very worthwhile expense to see if you could get courts to agree with city's arguments on extreme risk and prevention of domestic violence.

(Not saying it's right, just explaining the position the city might take and why these actions might not be deterred by this suit.)

Please support the SF "Help Mike!" campaign to raise legal fees for a 72 year old Texas teacher and hobby rancher who had 6 forgotten 9mm rounds in his checked luggage leaving T&C and faced 12 years in prison and $50k legal fees at
Posts: 2021 | Location: New Mexico | Registered: April 24, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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So, of the $250k settlement, he gets $31k. Doesn't say if he got the guns back either
Posts: 1534 | Location: Rhode Island | Registered: February 15, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Besides the $250K settlement, how much did the city also have to shell out (taxpayer $$) to litigate this losing court case?

“A man’s treatment of a dog is no indication of the man’s nature, but his treatment of a cat is. It is the crucial test. None but the humane treat a cat well.”
-- Mark Twain, 1902
Posts: 8961 | Location: Northern Virginia | Registered: November 04, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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