Maine Legal Group Logo
Main Office
Satellite Office
Consultations by Appointment Only

Unreasonable Seizures After the Legal Process Has Begun: Manuel v. City of Joliet

A hand holding several different pills, representing how one can benefit from calling a Portland criminal defense lawyer.

The Supreme Court has finally made it official: The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable seizures, even if they happen after the legal process of a case has begun. The case, Manuel v. City of Joliet, was just released on March 21, 2017.

What Happened in Manuel

Because of the status of the case, the Supreme Court assumed that everything in Manuel’s complaint was true: He was the passenger in a car when it was pulled over by the police in Joliet, Illinois. He was dragged from the car, called a racial slur, and assaulted while he was on the ground. Despite a lack of probable cause, he was searched and police found a vial of pills, which they were convinced were ecstasy. Even though a field test came back negative, Manuel was arrested for drug possession.

At the police station, the pills were tested again. Even though the test came back negative, the technician reported that one was “positive for the probable presence of ecstasy.” One of the arresting officers agreed, saying that his “training and experience” taught him that the pills were ecstasy. Relying exclusively on these statements, the county judge determined that there had been probable cause to arrest Manuel, and he was held in jail to await trial.

Manuel spent 48 days in jail before the pills were tested – negative, again – and the prosecutor got around to dropping his case.

Detention After Legal Process Has Begun

The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable seizures, including those that are done without probable cause. These usually happen in the field, when police arrest someone they suspect of committing a crime. However, these unreasonable seizures can also happen after the legal process has begun, as when a neutral and detached magistrate – in Manuel’s case, the county judge – has determined that there was probable cause for the arrest based on fabricated evidence.

While the Supreme Court has said all of that before, not all of the federal appellate courts had been following their decision to the letter. Importantly for Manuel, the federal appellate court in charge of Illinois – the Seventh Circuit – had been insisting that pretrial detentions were fine. According to the Seventh Circuit, legal process alone – regardless of how erroneous it was – was enough to put the Fourth Amendment’s protections to bed. Of course, this notion led to some ridiculous results, including that someone arrested on a warrant – a form of legal process, because it came from a neutral and detached magistrate – could raise no Fourth Amendment defense.

Maine Criminal Defense Attorney William T. Bly

Some cases from the Supreme Court are not meant to change the law. Instead, they’re meant to slap a lower federal court into compliance with earlier Supreme Court decisions. Manuel v. City of Joliet was one of these cases.

If you have been arrested in the state of Maine or are already facing criminal charges, call the law office of criminal defense attorney William T. Bly at (207) 571-8146 or contact him online.


Contact our office to speak with
one of our team members who will set up a confidential consultation to discuss your case.


Great group of people. Managed to get me a favorable outcome from a very bad situation. I would highly recommend this firm if you have legal troubles. Top notch performance!!

Dave Allen

So thankful I chose this team to represent me. They’re the best, hands down. Nathan Hitchcock proved my innocence not once but TWICE, including a trial by jury. I have a family in law enforcement who told me “Bill Bly and his team are the best. If I would recommend anyone, it would be them.”

Brandon Albert





Ready to Get Started? Get In Touch With Us Today!

If you are facing criminal charges in Maine, the attorneys at The Maine Criminal Defense Group are here to help. Call our office to speak with one of our team members, who will discuss your case with you and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys.

Get to Know Our Group
Maine Legal Group

We are a boutique law firm, and we stand out by prioritizing our clients’ well-being. At The Maine Legal Group, our experienced team offers personalized attention in both criminal defense and divorce cases.

The Maine Criminal Defense Group

The Maine Criminal Defense Group adeptly handles all areas of criminal defense practice, including experienced and skilled legal representation for state and federal charges.

The Maine Divorce Group

The Maine Divorce Group empowers individuals skillfully navigating divorce with compassionate guidance, ensuring a brighter future through the challenges of the process.