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Joined: 10/8/2005
Msg: 247
Bill of RightsPage 21 of 21    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21)
No warrant? No problem: Cops can break in if evidence in danger
Comments 8
May 16, 2011 1100 PM
David G. Savage/Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court gave police more leeway to break into homes or apartments in search of illegal drugs when they suspect the evidence might be destroyed.

The justices said officers who smell marijuana and loudly knock on the door may break in if they hear sounds that suggest the residents are scurrying to hide the drugs.

Residents who "attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame" when police burst in, said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. for an 8-1 majority.

In a lone dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she feared the ruling in a Kentucky case gives police an easy way to ignore the Fourth Amendment. She said its "core requirement" is that officers have probable cause and a search warrant before they break into a house.

"How 'secure' do our homes remain if police, armed with no warrant, can pound on doors at will and ... forcibly enter?" Ginsburg asked.

An expert on criminal searches said the decision would encourage the police to undertake "knock and talk" raids. "I'm surprised the Supreme Court would condone this, that if the police hear suspicious noises inside, they can break in. I'm even more surprised that nearly all of them went along," said John Wesley Hall, a criminal defense lawyer in Little Rock, Ark.

In the past, the court has insisted that homes are special preserves. As Alito said, the Fourth Amendment "has drawn a firm line at the entrance to the house." One exception to the search-warrant rule involves an emergency, such as screams coming from a house. Police may also pursue a fleeing suspect who enters a residence.

The Kentucky case began when police in Lexington sought to arrest a man who had sold crack cocaine to an informer. They followed him to an apartment building, but lost sight of him. Upon smelling marijuana coming from one apartment, they pounded on the door and called "Police. Police. Police," and heard sounds of people moving.

At this, the officers announced they were coming in and broke down the door. The suspect was not in the apartment; instead, police found Hollis King smoking marijuana and put him under arrest. They also found powder cocaine. King was convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

The Supreme Court ruled in Kentucky v. King that the officers' conduct "was entirely lawful," and they were justified in breaking in to prevent the destruction of the evidence.

"When law enforcement officers who are not armed with a warrant knock on a door, they do no more than any private citizen may do," he wrote. A resident need not respond, he added. But the sounds of people moving and perhaps toilets being flushed could justify police entering without a warrant, he added.

The ruling was not a final loss for King. The justices said the Kentucky state court should consider again whether the police faced an emergency situation in this case.

Ginsburg, however, said the court's approach "arms the police with a way routinely to dishonor the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement in drug cases." She said the police did not face a "genuine emergency" and should not have been allowed to enter the apartment without a warrant.
Joined: 3/17/2008
Msg: 248
Bill of Rights
Posted: 5/17/2011 7:45:25 AM
It must be the end of the world, I agree with Ginsburg. Catching drug users/sellers is far, far less important than protecting the sanctity of a mans home. After having said that it is easy to imagine police being in some other situation, meth lab?, where public safety would argue for this kind of entry.

It would also seem that to prevent misuse of my argument that pot smokers, people using incandescent light bulbs, etc. could not be prosecuted if the public safety argument was used to gain entry.

Not being trained in law I'm sure my arguments have more elegant expressions that have stood tests of time and practice.
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 249
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Bill of Rights
Posted: 5/17/2011 10:38:02 AM
I read it, and it sounds fine to me. Police may enter a home without a search warrant when there are "exigent circumstances." One way these circumstances arise is when it looks like evidence is about to be destroyed--where the police either must seize it now, or lose it for good.

Several states, including Kentucky, had said that the police couldn't create these exigent circumstances themselves, as an excuse to get around the warrant requirement. OK, but the Kentucky Supreme Court had gone even further. It had said that if it was "reasonably foreseeable" that what the police themselves did would create the exigent circumstances--i.e. the imminent destruction of evidence--the exception to the warrant requirement didn't apply.

But the Court said there was no way to determine--objectively--if the police themselves did something which made it "reasonably foreseeable" that the occupant(s) would destroy evidence. And the fact this determination would necessarily be so subjective made it impractical. It would be almost impossible for a trial court to decide, in a given case, if the police had knocked loud enough for the occupants to hear, used a tone of voice which made them think they had to destroy evidence, etc.

So, the Court sent the case back to let the state court determine if the facts showed the exigent circumstances existed--but this time, without applying the "reasonably foreseeable" standard.
Joined: 10/8/2005
Msg: 250
Bill of Rights
Posted: 5/28/2011 8:59:00 AM
You'd want to think that your government has your best interests at heart, wouldn't you? However, time and again they just keep proving that we're engaging in wishful thinking when it comes to the "why" of what they do and the legislation that they pass. In fact ...
... we are subject to a government that seeks at every turn to undermine our constitutional rights ...
Take these executive orders, for instance:
• Executive Order 10995: Seizure of all communications media - radio, television, newspapers, CB and Ham radio, telephones and the internet (in effect, suspension of the first amendment)
•Executive Order 10997: Seizure of all electrical power and fossil fuels
•Executive Order 10998: Seizure of all food sources, farms and farm equipment. Food will be rationed. Today some states have anti-hoarding laws on the books, stating that anything over a one week's supply of food is considered hoarding and against the law.
•Executive Order 10999: Seizure of all transportation and control of all highways, interstates and seaports. Any vehicle, public or private, can be taken.
•Executive Order 11000: Seizure of all civilians for work under Federal supervision.
•Executive Order 11003: Seizure of all airports and aircraft, public or private.
•Executive Order 11004: Housing and Finance given authority for population relocation.
•Executive Order 12919: Directs various Cabinet officials to be ready to take over virtually all aspects of the United States economy during a "state of national emergency" at the direction of the president.
• Executive Order 13010: Directs FEMA to take control over all government agencies in times of emergency. FEMA is under the direct control of the executive (presidential) branch of government.
• Executive Order 11490: Establishes presidential control over all United States citizens, businesses, and churches in times of "emergency"
These are executive orders passed by presidents--Republican and Democrat alike--elected to preserve our freedoms and the Constitution. Their very duplicities show that they have no intention of honoring the ideals of the constitutional republic handed down to us, that they are the very men that the Founders warned us about.
In fact, our Founders understood that this constitutional model could be overturned and made ineffective should the restraining power of the people against the federal government be made moot through judicial or legislative process.
Men like John Adams, James Madison, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton all viewed the separation of powers to be indispensable to the continuation and preservation of liberty and the United States.
So what does the passage of these Executive Orders tell us? It tells us this ...
The dominoes are in place to subject the American people to a state of martial law nationwide.
And the sad thing is, this isn't even a new occurrence. American presidents, governors, and mayors have flexed their martial-law-imposing muscles at various times throughout our history.
•In 1871, President Grant sent troops into South Carolina to confiscate all private guns.
•In 1914, President Wilson ordered the infantry into Colorado to disarm everyone involved in a labor union dispute, including members of law enforcement and the National Guard.
•In 1993, the U.S. Army provided advice, tactical support, and military equipment to the FBI and the BATF to raid the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, which resulted in the deaths of 74 men, women and children.
•Martial Law was declared by General Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812.
•President Lincoln declared it again during the War Between the States, arresting anyone who dissented from his war-time policies, including newspaper editors and legislators.
•In 1931, Texas Governor Ross used National Guard troops to enforce limits on the size of private property.
•Much of the Pacific Coast was under martial law after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
•And as recently as 2005, New Orleans was under orders of martial law after Hurricane Katrina, orders which stripped remaining law-abiding citizens of their ability to protect and defend themselves and their property.
Not only do we have Executive Orders paving the way for martial law, we have precedence for it. All that's needed in order to put it into motion is a trigger point, whether real or imaginary
Joined: 1/31/2009
Msg: 251
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Bill of Rights
Posted: 5/28/2011 1:21:19 PM

You'd want to think that your government has your best interests at heart, wouldn't you?

I look at it like the men who founded this country did. I assume no government ever has my best interests at heart. So for me, make the federal government no larger or stronger than it needs to be to do the basic things the Constitution authorizes it to do.

I don't like the way executive orders have come to be used--as a substitute for real laws passed by the elected members of Congress. There are several ways to control them, but none of them's a sure thing.
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