Monroe v. Pape

PETITIONER: James Monroe, et al.
RESPONDENT: Frank Pape, et al.
LOCATION: Circuit Court of Montgomery County

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 365 US 167 (1961)
ARGUED: Nov 08, 1960
DECIDED: Feb 20, 1961

Facts of the case

On October 29, 1958, thirteen police officers, including Frank Pape, arrived at James Monroe's Chicago apartment at 5:45 A.M. The officers broke down the door, forced Monroe and his wife to stand naked in their living room, and ransacked the apartment. Afterwards, James Monroe was escorted to police quarters and held for ten hours on "open" charges while he was interrogated about a murder. The police did not have a warrant for the search or the arrest, and refused Monroe permission to call his attorney.

Monroe brought a complaint against each of the Chicago police officers individually and against the City of Chicago. The City of Chicago moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that it was not liable under the Civil Rights Act nor for acts committed in performance of governmental functions. All defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that there was no cause of action under the Civil Rights Acts. The district court dismissed the complaint. The United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal.


1. Does a person have a valid cause of action under the Civil Rights Act against police officers when the police officers violate that person's due process?

2. Can municipalities be liable under the Civil Rights Act?

Media for Monroe v. Pape

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 08, 1960 (Part 1) in Monroe v. Pape

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 08, 1960 (Part 2) in Monroe v. Pape

Earl Warren:

Mr. Moore, you may proceed.

Donald Page Moore:

Thank you Your Honor.

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

Our complaint in the District Court alleged the facts in Count 1 and it alleged the following facts.

On October the 29th of 1958, the petitioner, James Monroe, his wife, who was also a petitioner, Flossie Monroe, and their six children, who were also petitioners here, were at home in their Chicago apartment asleep in their beds, and at 05:45 that morning, the respondent, Deputy Chief of Detectives, Frank Pape and 12 other police officers from the Detective Bureau of the Chicago Police Department entered their -- entered the Monroe home through the front and rear doors.

Chief Pape and two other officers went down the corridor and entered the Monroe bedroom.

At that point Mr. and Mrs. Monroe were asleep in their beds.

Flashlights were shined on the faces of Mr. and Mrs. Monroe.

One of the officers ordered James Monroe to get out of bed.

A gun was pointed at Mr. Monroe when this command was given.

Mr. Monroe got out of bed.

He had been sleeping with no clothes on.

He was naked.

He was told if he didn't move fast, he would be shot and he was told to get into the living room.

Potter Stewart:

And all we have --

Donald Page Moore:

Mr. --

Potter Stewart:

-- in this case is the complaint, the allegations of the complaint?

Donald Page Moore:

That is correct Your Honor.

Mr. Monroe went into the living room.

He stood in the middle of the living at the command of the police, he was still naked.

Immediately thereafter, another officer ordered Mrs. Monroe to get out of her bed.

She said I don't want to do it because I don't have any clothes on.

I'm paraphrasing the complaint now.

The officer insisted that she get up.

He grabbed her by the arm and started to pull her out of the bed.

As she was being pulled from the bed, she -- she grabbed a blanket off -- off the top of the bed and drew it in front of her.

And she was also compelled to go into the living room.

At about the same time, other officers were awakening the six Monroe children and herding them into the living room.

Meanwhile, still other officers began an exhaustive search of the premises.

It commenced in the Monroe bedroom when one of the officers went into the closet there and he pulled all the clothes off the hangers, examined each one separately and threw each garment on the floor.