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Police don't have to knock anymore


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Police don't have to knock, justices say

 

Alito's vote breaks 4-4 tie in police search case

 

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A split Supreme Court ruled Thursday that drug evidence seized in a home search can be used against a suspect even though police failed to knock on the door and wait a "reasonable" amount of time before entering.

 

The 5-4 decision continues a string of rulings since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that in general give law enforcement greater discretion to carry out search-and-seizure warrants.

 

President Bush's nominees to the high court, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, notably sided with the government.

 

Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said disallowing evidence from every "knock-and-announce violation" by officers would lead to the "grave adverse consequence" of a flood of appeals by accused criminals seeking dismissal of their cases.

 

He was joined by Roberts and his fellow conservatives Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Alito.

 

Scalia added that police might put their lives in danger if they were uncertain when and if entry was legally permissible. "If the consequences of running afoul of the law were so massive, officers would be inclined to wait longer than the law requires -- producing inevitable violence against officers in some cases, and the destruction of evidence in many others."

 

The justices sparred in an appeal they are hearing for a second time, and reflected the deep divisions that remain on a court divided along ideological lines. There was little unanimity over how to ensure law enforcement officers do not routinely violate the constitutional protection against "unreasonable searches-and-seizures."

 

The appeal involves Booker Hudson, a Detroit, Michigan, man whose case has wound its way through various courts for nearly seven years.

 

Seven city police officers executed a search warrant in August 1998 on Hudson's home, finding crack cocaine on him and around the residence, as well as a gun.

 

Prosecutors said officers shouted "Police, search warrant," but readily admit that they did not knock on the door and that they waited only three to five seconds before entering and finding Hudson sitting on his couch. He was eventually convicted of drug possession.

 

"People have the right to answer the door in a dignified manner," Hudson's lawyer David Moran had told the high court. The justices have ruled in the past that police should announce their presence, then normally wait 15 to 20 seconds before bursting into a home.

 

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a lengthy dissent, saying, "Our Fourth Amendment traditions place a high value upon protecting privacy in the home." A centerpiece of those protections, he said, includes the "exclusionary rule," under which evidence seized in illegal searches should be suppressed at trial.

 

"It weakens, perhaps destroys, much of the practical value of the Constitution's knock-and-announce protection," concluded Breyer, who said he fears police will now feel free to routinely violate the knocking and waiting requirements, knowing they might not be punished for it.

 

Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg supported Breyer's position.

 

The majority-conservative court has been generally supportive of police discretion since the 9/11 attacks, including disputes over home and car searches, suspect interrogations, and sobriety and border checkpoints. Several of the more liberal justices have disagreed sharply in many of those cases.

 

The high court has already ruled on two other search-and-seizure cases this term. In March, it said police were wrong to search a Georgia man's home over his objections, even though his estranged wife gave her consent. And last month, police in Utah investigating reports of a loud party were found to be justified entering a home under "emergency circumstances" to break up a fight, even though they did not have a search warrant to enter.

 

Alito turned out to be the deciding vote in the Hudson case. He was not yet on the bench when the case was first argued in January. His predecessor, Sandra Day O'Connor, heard the case and appeared to support the defendant.

 

But she retired before a decision was issued and, under court rules, her vote did not count. That left a 4-4 tie, prompting the court to rehear the arguments.

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Mixed blessing. Greater police power at the expense of civil rights previously backed up by 90 years of established supreme court precedent. Its certainly bad for criminals, so you can't argue with that part. But its the same ol' story: balancing the citizens' civil rights with law enforcement's authroity to do its job.

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Scalia added that police might put their lives in danger if they were uncertain when and if entry was legally permissible.

 

Call me crazy... but I don't think the founding fathers were as concerned about the lives of police officers busting into my house, as much as they were concerned about protecting it's citizens from runaway government.

 

But, what did they know?

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Bad, bad, bad...

 

Even though this seems minor, the simple fact is that the government continues to whittle away as our rights as individuals in the name of what's good for the state. Since when has the state become more important than the individuals that comprise it?

 

This is not the lsat you'll hear about this I'm afraid.

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If they have a warrant, why is it again that they have to knock and wait a while before entering?

 

The 4th Amendment says:

 

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

 

So, with a warrant, they had to show probable cause, and the warrant has to describe the dude's house with sufficient specificity, and they can't execute it at an unreasonable hour unless there are exigent circumstances. What's the problem here?

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If they have a warrant, why is it again that they have to knock and wait a while before entering?

 

The 4th Amendment says:

So, with a warrant, they had to show probable cause, and the warrant has to describe the dude's house with sufficient specificity, and they can't execute it at an unreasonable hour unless there are exigent circumstances. What's the problem here?

 

I'm no expert, but I suppose having one's door kicked unexpectedly - warrant or no - might be considered "unreasonable" if (for example) that's the way every single search warrant in the US were to be served. Generally, I agree with you. If they got a warrant, they've got the right to come in. But sheesh, I'll open the freakin' door if the ask. No reason to scare the stuffing outta me and my family, not to mention bust up my door, if I'd have cooperated in the first place. But now they can. Every time, for everyone.

Edited by yo mama
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I'm no expert, but I suppose having one's door kicked unexpectedly - warrant or no - might be considered "unreasonable" if (for example) that's the way every single search warrant in the US were to be served. Generally, I agree with you. If they got a warrant, they've got the right to come in. But sheesh, I'll open the freakin' door if the ask. No reason to scare the stuffing outta me and my family, not to mention bust up my door, if I'd have cooperated in the first place. But now they can. Every time, for everyone.

 

 

Well, I guess that goes along with the not executing the warrant in the middle of the night unless they can show they have reason to think the stubject won't still be there in the morning.

 

But if the bad guys have less warning, I could see how that could save cops' lives.

 

I just can't get worked up about this one per se. I do agree that chipping away at longstanding precedent concerning protections offered by the Bill of Rights is certainly a step in the wrong direction, and a bad sign for the future of this Court.

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Speaking from experience (on the door kicking side) people who cooperate with search warrants aren't the ones that require the element of surprise be used when executing these warrants. The surprise factor is used for officer safety and to preserve any evidence that may be destroyed (ie... drugs).

 

I personally use the door ram for our SWAT team and I am happy (so is my wife) that I don't have to be a sitting duck in front of a doorway while some crackhead readies his weapons and takes cover.

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Speaking from experience (on the door kicking side) people who cooperate with search warrants aren't the ones that require the element of surprise be used when executing these warrants. The surprise factor is used for officer safety and to preserve any evidence that may be destroyed (ie... drugs).

 

I personally use the door ram for our SWAT team and I am happy (so is my wife) that I don't have to be a sitting duck in front of a doorway while some crackhead readies his weapons and takes cover.

 

 

Do you presently have a policy for executing these warrants, such as a knock and announcement? I'll have to read more about this particular case because it isn't clear to me what the problem is/was in the first place.

 

If it's simply, dude was on the coach in his skivvies with a vial of crack on his lap, I'm not going to worry about it. If it was 3am and the guy was asleep and the cops just walked through the door, well....I'll have to think about.

 

I do believe we can all agree that not having any crack on your person is the best way to avoid all of this.

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there was a situation in new york where the cops were serving a warrant on a suspect and busted the guy's door down ... on the wrong apartment. the resident was an older man who subsequently had a heart attack, which was blamed on the shock of seeing cops raiding his place. i realize this is an isolated incident and not the case in every warrant that's served, but, like anything, hopefully discretion and common sense will be used. i don't think cops should have to be sitting ducks, but i don't think that just because they have the right to bust every suspect's door down, they should.

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Is this really getting rid of court precedence? I mean, like squeegiebo said, if they have a warrant, why do they have to knock and wait?

 

Yup. 90 years. They've always been able to come it; it's just that they had to announce that they were the cops first and give you a reasonable amount of time time to open the door.

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Speaking from experience (on the door kicking side) people who cooperate with search warrants aren't the ones that require the element of surprise be used when executing these warrants. The surprise factor is used for officer safety and to preserve any evidence that may be destroyed (ie... drugs).

 

I personally use the door ram for our SWAT team and I am happy (so is my wife) that I don't have to be a sitting duck in front of a doorway while some crackhead readies his weapons and takes cover.

 

Totally understand where you're coming from; makes a ton of common sense. But where's my guarantee that you are only going to bust my door if I'm a known, violent criminal? It doesn't exist. My complaint here is merely that this a tactic that could easily be subject to to widespread abuse against unpopular individuals (gays, minority political party members, outspoken activists of this caues or that, fantasy football fanatics, etc). I guess I'd just rather have a system where the police have to get a specific kind of warrant that allows them to bust in unnaounced based on probable cause shown in advance, or based on exigent circumstances (which has always been the case anyway).

Edited by yo mama
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Totally understand where you're coming from; makes a ton of common sense. But where's my guarantee that you are only going to bust my door if I'm a known, violent criminal? It doesn't exist. My complaint here is merely that this a tactic that could easily be subject to to widespread abuse against unpopular individuals (gays, minority political party members, outspoken activists of this caues or that, fantasy football fanatics, etc). I guess I'd just rather have a system where the police have to get a specific kind of warrant that allows them to bust in unnaounced based on probable cause shown in advance, or based on exigent circumstances (which has always been the case anyway).

 

 

couldnt they just as easily abuse the current method against these people....they probably already do. if they want to *** with someone, i dont think an introduction or lack there of makes that big of a deal. imho

Edited by dmarc117
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couldnt they just as easily abuse the current method against these people....they probably already do. if they want to *** with someone, i dont think an introduction or lack there of makes that big of a deal. imho

 

 

So yer just going to give up a freedom that simply? Bye bye constitutional freedoms.

 

Thank you Republicans.

Edited by skins
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couldnt they just as easily abuse the current method against these people....they probably already do. if they want to *** with someone, i dont think an introduction or lack there of makes that big of a deal. imho

 

Well, you're free to speak for youself on that matter. But when it comes to my house, my door, my family, and my rights, *I* would rather not roll over quite so quickly and just write this off as "no big deal." Granted, there are more significant impingements to personal freedom being pertetrated against us than this. But its: (1) yet another in an ever growing list; and (2) a potentially bad sign of things to come from the new face of our Supreme Court. (Not from a liberal/conservative standpoint, but from the disregarding 90 years of prior Supreme Court precedent standpoint. Scary stuff).

Edited by yo mama
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So yer just going to give up a freedom that simply? Bye bye constitutional freedoms.

 

Thank you Republicans.

 

 

 

so the 3 seconds between having someone scream "its the cops!" and then bulldozing down my door is a freedom?? seems like more of a courtesy to me.

 

:D

Edited by dmarc117
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Well, you're free to speak for youself on that matter. But when it comes to my house, my door, my family, and my rights, *I* would rather not roll over quite so quickly and just write this off as "no big deal." Granted, there are more significant impingements to personal freedom being pertetrated against us than this. But its: (1) yet another in an ever growing list; and (2) a potentially bad sign of things to come from the new face of our Supreme Court. (Not from a liberal/conservative standpoint, but from the disregarding 90 years of prior Supreme Court precedent standpoint. Scary stuff).

 

 

 

i guess what im saying is this will probably never affect anyone here. lets hope not. and like i said before, if they really want to f with you, does that 3 seconds really matter?

 

i guess its kinda like the internet monitoring debate....im not worried cause i have nothing to hide. if some dude is talking to a 12 old lookin for sex or trying to figure out how to build a bomb, he should be pissed. and i want that guy monitored. with this situation, if some dude is trying to stuff 50lbs of coke down his toilet, im sure those 3 seconds make a huge difference!!

Edited by dmarc117
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so the 3 seconds between having someone scream "its the cops!" and then bulldozing down my door is a freedom?? seems like more of a courtesy to me.

 

:D

 

 

 

Me too on face. But how long before can do the same without the warrant?

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so the 3 seconds between having someone scream "its the cops!" and then bulldozing down my door is a freedom?? seems like more of a courtesy to me.

 

:D

 

 

Yeah? Because those seconds and warning might prevent me from putting a hydroshok in their skull.

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