- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 1, 2006

The Supreme Court opens 2006 with two Fourth Amendment cases this month questioning the rules surrounding the execution of search warrants by law enforcement authorities.

Hudson v. Michigan, which the justices will hear when the court reconvenes Jan. 9, questions whether police violated the Fourth Amendment “knock and announce rule” when they burst into a suspected cocaine dealer’s home in Detroit.

The following week, the justices will consider rules pertaining to searches conducted with special “anticipatory” warrants, which become operative only after “triggering events” indicate probable cause.

In other action this month, the court will hear arguments in cases related to the Federal Election Commission and advertising laws, sexual-harassment claims, and whether federal securities law may pre-empt certain class-action suits brought under state law.

In the Hudson case, the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Booker T. Hudson, will argue that police illegally broke into Mr. Hudson’s home to conduct a search that resulted in his arrest and conviction for cocaine and firearm possession.

A trial judge granted Hudson’s motion to suppress evidence from the search on grounds police waited only three to five seconds to burst in after announcing their presence outside. But the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed, citing a 1999 Michigan Supreme Court ruling that evidence found after such a violation is allowed in court.

In United States v. Grubbs, the second Fourth Amendment case, the justices will help define when “anticipatory” warrants can be used.

U.S. postal officials in California obtained such an anticipatory warrant in 2002 to search the home of Jeffrey Grubbs after an undercover postal inspector — posing as a child pornography distributor — received a $45 cash order from Grubbs seeking mail delivery of a movie featuring a child.

While an affidavit presented by the undercover postal inspector to obtain the warrant said the search could only be triggered if someone at the home physically accepted mail delivery of the movie, the actual warrant issued by a magistrate judge lacked such verbiage.

When Grubbs’ wife accepted the videotape from a postman, police proceeded to search the home, and Grubbs was arrested for possessing child pornography.

In district court, Grubbs argued the search was invalid because the warrant made no mention of the “triggering events” that would justify a search, and police failed to present him with the affidavit explaining what the triggering event was — that his wife had accepted delivery of the movie.

The judge denied a Grubbs’ motion to suppress the evidence. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later reversed the ruling, finding that police are constitutionally required to present a written explanation of such triggering events to any person whose property is being searched.

According to court documents, Grubbs, who pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography, had learned of the movie through a Web site operated by the undercover inspector.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide