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County of Riverside v. McLaughlin

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 500 U.S. 44, 111 S. Ct. 1661, 114 L. Ed. 2d 49 (1991)

Brief Fact Summary. A class action suit, challenging the county’s procedure of combining probable cause determinations for parties arrested without a warrant and the arraignment process.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. “Where an arrested individual does not receive a probable cause determination within 48 hours, the burden of proof shifts to the government to demonstrate the existence of a bona fide emergency or other extraordinary circumstance, which cannot include intervening weekends or the fact that, in a particular case, it may take longer to consolidate pretrial proceedings.”


Facts. Plaintiff MacLaughlin initiated a class-action lawsuit, alleging that the County’s practice of combining arraignment with a determination of probable cause for people subject to warrantless arrest was not sufficiently prompt under the Fourth Amendment. Generally, arraignments must be held within forty-eight hours of arrest. However, weekends and holidays were not included as “days”. Persons arrested at the end of the week could have as many as seven days before arraignment and a probable cause determination.

Issue. “In Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103 (1975), this Court held that the Fourth Amendment requires a prompt judicial determination of probable cause as a prerequisite to an extended pretrial detention following a warrantless arrest. This case requires us to define what is “prompt” under Gerstein.”

Content Type: Brief


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