U.S. Supreme Court to Decide If Unlawfully Seized Evidence Can Be Used By Police

January 9, 2006 12:00 am

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DETROIT — The national American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan appeared today before the U.S. Supreme Court to argue that police should not be able to use evidence found in a home if the officers did not meet the “knock and announce” requirement and therefore entered the home illegally. The ACLU is representing Booker T. Hudson, a Michigan homeowner.

“It’s undisputed that the police violated the Fourth Amendment by barging into Mr. Hudson’s home without ‘knocking and announcing,’” said David A. Moran, Assistant Professor at Wayne State University Law School and the ACLU cooperating attorney who argued the case before the Court. “The question is whether evidence should be suppressed in order to deter the police from violating the ‘knock and announce’ requirement.”

According to the ACLU, Detroit police broke into Hudson’s home without knocking and announcing, as required by law. Once inside, the police found a small quantity of drugs and arrested Hudson for possession, which caused him to be placed on probation for eighteen months. Hudson’s legal attempt to suppress the evidence found in his home on the basis of the “knock and announce” violation was denied because of a 1999 Michigan Supreme Court ruling that evidence found after such a violation was not eligible for suppression.

In a 1995 U.S. Supreme Court opinion Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the Court, stressed that the “knock and announce” requirement protects the dignity of residents by allowing them a reasonable time to make themselves presentable before the police enter, and also protects private property by allowing residents an opportunity to open their door instead of having the doors destroyed by a police battering ram.

“There is good reason for the ‘knock and announce’ requirement,” said Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan Executive Director. “The courts have always placed a high priority on the rights of people within their own homes and the Michigan practice makes it too easy to completely disregard those rights. In our argument today we urge the Supreme Court to not allow policy to violate those rights with impunity.”

This issue has been disputed in courts across the country, but the Michigan Supreme Court’s position has been rejected by the highest state courts in Arkansas and Maryland and by the Sixth and Eighth Circuit Courts of Appeal. The Michigan Supreme Court’s holding has been embraced by only the Seventh Circuit.

A decision in Hudson v. Michigan is expected by June 2006.

In addition to Moran and Moss, Hudson is represented by Steven R. Shapiro of the national ACLU, Michael Steinberg of the ACLU of Michigan, Timothy O’Toole and Richard D. Korn.

To read the brief, go to: www.aclu.org/scotus/2005/21345lgl20050922.html

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