Private Security Guards as State Actors, U.S. v. Day (amicus)

On July 5, 2008, two armed security guards for an apartment complex observed Mario Day and another person standing in the road and arguing with someone in an apartment.  Day retrieved a gun from a nearby car, and began advancing on the apartment.  The officers drew their weapons and ran toward Day, shouting at him to freeze.  Day put down his gun and raised his hands.  The officers placed Day in restraints and conducted a Terry search.   Finding nothing resembling a weapon, one of the officers asked Day if he had anything illegal on him.  Day admitted that he had a little marijuana, and the officer reached into Day’s pants and found it.  The officers then questioned Day about his firearm.   They called the Chesterfield police department, and a police officer came and assumed custody of Day.

Day was charged with federal drug and firearms violations.  The district court granted his motion to suppress the marijuana and all statements about the firearm or marijuana, holding that the security officers had violated Day’s fourth and fifth amendment rights by questioning him without Miranda warnings and searching for marijuana.  A panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the security guards were not state actors and therefore did not need to comply with constitutional requirements.  On January 29, 2010, we filed an amicus brief in support of Day’s petition for the full court to hear the case, arguing that armed, uniformed security guards acting with broad authority from the state should be bound by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.  On March 2, 2010, the court denied the petition.

Court Documents (click links to view pdf)
Brief Amicus Curiae, January 2010 - Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals


Rebecca Glenberg, ACLU of Virginia

Date filed

January 29, 2010


U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit