"No Knock" warrants were once reserved for very limited, special circumstances. This ruling appears to set the stage for no-knock the be the standard rather than the exception. (Based, of course, on the CNN article - I have not seen the actual ruling yet)WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that police armed with a warrant can barge into homes and seize evidence even if they don't knock, a huge government victory that was decided by President Bush's new justices.
The 5-4 ruling clearly signals the court's conservative shift following the departure of moderate Sandra Day O'Connor.
The case tested previous court rulings that police armed with warrants generally must knock and announce themselves or they run afoul of the Constitution's Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches.
Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said Detroit police acknowledge violating that rule when they called out their presence at a man's door then went inside three seconds to five seconds later.
"Whether that preliminary misstep had occurred or not, the police would have executed the warrant they had obtained, and would have discovered the gun and drugs inside the house," Scalia wrote.
But suppressing evidence is too high of a penalty, Scalia said, for errors by police in failing to properly announce themselves.
I find this troubling. Yes, there are circumstances where either the evidence being sought is likely to be destroyed or the offenders involved have a propensity toward violence that mandates a no-knock service. But the vast majority of search warrant service should not reasonably require a no-knock approach.
I am concerned that this is going to lead to people being hurt. The police do, from time to time, serve a warrant on the wrong house. At least with the knock and announce approach, this sort of error is easily corrected.
If the initial approach is to kick the door in, some citizen is going to respond to what they reasonably believe is a home invasion and violence will ensue.
Seems like a bad idea to me.