Entick v Carrington, 1765

Author and schoolmaster John Entick was suspected of writing a libelous pamphlet against the government. In response, the secretary of state sent Nathan Carrington, along with a group of other king’s men, to search Entick’s house for evidence. Entick then sued the men for trespass.

The court decided that the secretary of state did not have the legal authority to issue a search warrant, and therefore Carrington had trespassed. This case reflects the principle that “no man is above the law” – not even the secretary of state. To this day, law enforcement agencies may only do what the law allows.

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