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Supreme Court to Rule on How Safe You Are in Your Own Home

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In a late breaking story on Slate today (April 6) titled, No Swat: The most important Supreme Court case you’ve never heard about, reporter Radley Balko writes that this spring, the Court will decide Hudson v. Michigan. The heart of the case examines the extent to which police can use drugs seized in a “no-knock” raid when entering a residence.

The “no-knock” tactic has been approved in extraordinary cases involving hostages or fugitives, but in a 1995 case, Wilson v. Arkansas, the Court for the first time ruled “that at least in principle, the Fourth Amendment requires police to knock and announce themselves before entering a private home.”

The court also acknowledged the English common law “Castle Doctrine,” which says that people have the right to protect their home against intruders.

In “Wilson,” the court acknowledge that there were extenuating circumstances, including when police officers believed they would be in danger or where they had good reason to think a suspect might destroy evidence. The police can either seek a warrant or just break in…but courts then decide if the raid was legal.

In the real world, the exigent-circumstances exceptions have been so broadly interpreted since Wilson, they’ve overwhelmed the rule. No-knock raids have been justified on the flimsiest of reasons, including that the suspect was a licensed, registered gun owner (NRA, take note!), or that the mere presence of indoor plumbing could be enough to trigger the “destruction of evidence” exception.

So what’s the big deal?

First, Americans are sitting passively while our Constitutional rights are being undermined.

Second, and equally as important, while it’s impossible to determine how many times the police have raided the wrong house, killed innocent people, or twisted the law into a pretzel to avoid following the rules, it’s going on all the time. Think about it – the house they raid could be your own.

As Balko writes, these raids are too often based on tips from unreliable confidential informants. According to a May 1995 National Law Journal series, they found that warrants based onlyon these questionable confidential sources tripled between 1980 and 1993, from 24% to 71%. The report also notes that these sources are very well paid for their information.

Balko writes, “Rubber-stamp judges, dicey informants, and aggressive policing have thus given rise to the countless examples of “wrong door” raids we read about in the news.” He lists a long list of innocent people who’ve been killed in “wrong door” raids, including New York City worker Alberta Spruill, Boston minister Accelyne Williams, and a Mexican immigrant in Denver named Ismael Mena.

The Hudson case won’t solve these problems since it deals only with illegal no-knock raids, but if the Supreme Court rules in his favor, it will at least serve as a deterrent to the police and encourage them to obey the law.

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About Mark Schannon

Retired crisis & risk manager/communications expert; extensive public relations experience in most areas over 30 years. Still available for extraordinary opportunities of mind-numbing complexity. Life-long liberal agnostic...or is that agnostic liberal.
  • Geo

    Gee whillikers, how many cops are going to get shot busting in the wrong doors of legally armed citizens? The response will be blowing the citizen away, and gosh for what? Probably cause.

    I see the police’s point, surprise, surprise, but it’s chancy… they better be totally right or the armed citizen might think it’s a forced home invasion, and respond in kind.

  • This is why a “court order” should be mandatory for this kind of thing, to protect the cops as well as the citizens. Any kind of “no knock” entry into a person’s home constitutes breaking and entering in my book, which means I have a right to defend my family and home. Trouble is that without court protection the chances are good that the citizen will end up losing either way.

  • The problem is that, over time, the police and courts have become more and more lax–innocent people have been arrested, harassed, and killed. It’s another example the slow erosion over many decades of some of basic Constitutional Rights.

    The 4th Amendment, to the Founding Fathers, was as important as the 1st.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • Arch Conservative

    If we could just get rid of the justices who sided with New London in Kelo V. New London I think we’d be doing just fine.

  • Clyde 21

    Arch: Are you aware of the eminent domain case W. was involved in with the Rangers Stadium? Another case of him being a pro business ass. It is wrong every time they do it.

  • Nancy

    I’m not surprised; W is the biggest whore for business at the expense of the citizens that has ever drawn breath.

  • Arch Con, if that’s the eminent domain case in favor of developers, this Arch Liberal is complete agreement with you.

    And as much as Dubya & I don’t see eye-to-eye on many things, this isn’t his doing. This erosion of 4th amendment rights is a trend that’s been going on for a lot longer than he’s been in office.

    Americans! We must be on a guard against liberals, conservatives, moderates, libertarians, Lithuanians, and political extremists from one end to the other including the moderate extremists. The house you save may be your own.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • Nancy

    Lol – why ‘Lithuanians’? I didn’t know they were a voting bloc (or whatever)?

  • Ah, someday I shall do an article on the beauty of the word, Lithuanians. It rolls off the tongue like a sweet, multi-syllabic, melodic tune. There are no hard sounds as in Britain, United States, China, Puerto Rico, etc.

    The key is multi-syllables. France–to short. Russia: the double “s” is harsh.

    It’s one of my favorite words, so I include them in everything. Plus, they’re known terrorist supporters, gun runners, drug smugglers, pirates, and all around great people. Loads of fun.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • Nancy

    Ooo…I’m Lithuanian. Well, my great-great grands on one side were. I didn’t know they had such social cachet. I DO know they were the last pagans in Europe, held out against (& beat the crap out of) the Teutonic Knights several times over. Well, well….

  • Nancy, you’re Lithuanian??!! I love you. I’d offer to marry you but my bride wouldn’t understand. It’s fine heritage you’ve got, wear the colors of Lithuania (what the hell are they, anyway?) with pride.

    But remember, don’t burn their flag. They’re still pagans…as well as all the other cool stuff I listed on my earlier comment.

    In Jamesons Veritas

  • Joey

    Come on Mark the color of Lithuania? Don’t you remember thier basketball uniforms during the Olympics (can’t remember the year).

    They didn’t have uniforms and the Grateful Dead (huge sports junkies BTW). Bought them tie-died uniforms, which they wore with pride.

    That was groovy baby!

  • Joey

    I hate to say this… but this law would make a great case for conceal and carry, Home defense, or the right to bear arms.

    Left or right, up or down… be an american, exercise your right to own a weapon.

    Did you know that buying a gun (in a store) sends a measurement to the bureau of statistics?

    Go out and buy a pistol. Men and Women! Send a message. Let the goverment know you are arming yourselves to the teeth.

  • Joey, on one hand, you’re taking this thread way off course. I had no idea The Dead bought the Lithuanians tie-dyed uniforms–how thoughtful of them. But that still doesn’t resolve the issue of the color of their flag–unless, of course, they started using the uniforms as their flag–which you should have noted!!!

    Your second post, alas, is, dare I say it, wrong. Not constitutionally, morally, or legally, but, from my somewhat limited experience, rationally. My brother was a cop for 13 years, 3 of which undercover.

    He’s told me on numerous occasions that the biggest source of people winding up dead during a robbery or break in is having a gun that, at the last minute, they can’t shoot. Turns out the robber takes the gun from them and blows them away with their own piece.

    I know–everyone thinks that wouldn’t happen to them…but then again, the vast majority of Americans think they’re above average in intelligence, beauty, and driving skill.

    We can’t know what we’d do in a situation this stressful. I haven’t researched this further, but my brother, who saw tons of this, says the safest thing you can do is NOT have a gun in your house. Or, if you do, have it linked to an automatic trip alarm–cause most people aren’t capable of killing…a nice thought when you think about it.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • Joey


    You talk the talk, but you aren’t walking the walk. You’re American? You are in agreement with giving your rights away? You 4th amendment doesn’t mean squat to you? Then why write the article. But a gun. You don’t have to load it, shoot it, or even purchase ammo. Just buy the damn thing. Send a message. The measurement is kept, and will be noticed.

    I don’t care what your brother says. We have a right to bear arms. Bear them. If the government has a right to bust you door down, without a warrant, search and seize your property, rip your house apart and hand you a form to submit a claim for damages… once they find you are not in any violation… WTF, brother. You have the right to own a gun. Own one. Vote with gun ownership. The old argument is resounding… for years we have been told that the framers ment this or that… it’s for a militia… it’s for hunting… sic semper tyrannas… Down with tyranny! This is tyranny, thinly disguised as patriotism. Be a patriot, buy you weapon and choose to defend yourself against tyrants.

    If you don’t agre roll over and play dead.

  • Joey, Joey, Joey, note my previous comment carefully–I was not questioning your constitutional, legal, or moral right to bear arms. (Actually, I like the idea of arming bears, but that’s for a different post.)

    And I think you’re confusing the 4th & 2nd Amendments. I expect the government to protect my 4th Amendment rights, because I don’t care how many guns I own, if a SWAT team comes breaking into my house, I’m under the bed with my ass sticking up in the air.

    You wanna fight ’em, I’ll be a pall bearer at your funeral. Don’t you watch action flicks–these guys are mean, well armed & wear bullet proof body armor. And I’m going to take ’em out with my snub-nosed 38?

    Anyway, my wife won’t let me buy a gun. I’m not allowed to do anything in the house more dangerous than change a lightbulb. I once rewired the pool heater, causing a thermo-nuclear meltdown (the entire thing turned into a puddle of molten whatever it is) and cost us $3,000. Hell, if I had a gun, I’d probably shoot my pecker off. Buy one for me…it still counts.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • Joey

    Marky, Marky, Marky,

    Your article comes across like a call to arms… or is it a piece on surrender?

  • It’s neither. Don’t you get it, I’m not allowed to play with guns. More important, there are things the government can do right–like protect the 4th amendment. If you think you can take on a SWAT team, more power to you.

    Just let me know where the funeral’s going to be.

    Surrender, never! It’s just how we choose to fight. Just remember, you can kill more worms with a brick and a Robin than with kind words.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • STAN

    Mark, please explain to me what a licensed/registered gun owner is? Why should the NRA take note? Mark#14. You stated your brother was a cop for 13yrs, 3 of which were undercover. Will not disagree on that because I have no knowledge concerning your brother. Now you enter the BS. Are you telling me people end up dead because the bad guy removed their own gun, used it on them since at the last minute they did not have the knowledge to shoot it and blow them away with their own piece. (Piece is a gun) if you watch violent movies like lets blow them away. Then you go on to say your brother said the safest thing to do is not have a gun in your home. BULL FREAKING SHIT. Don’t believe you for a minute Mark. In comment #16. My wife wont let me buy a gun. I wouldn’t either Mark since you think you might shoot your pecker off. From your comments my guess would be lack of target. Stay with the lightbulbs. At least you can toss them at the intruder to protect the wife. That will put the fear of God in them. Just remember Mark that it takes 850lbs per second to stop someone with a lightbulb. Let me guess mr liberal where your comming from. You like the idea of arming bears. How do you license and register a bear for gun ownership? #18. Im not allowed to play with guns. Play all you want with toy guns, just leave the real ones to the people who know the difference between the barrel and the trigger.
    Mark, please see my comment#32 (Muliple-Choice Question). SHOOT FIRST, PROOF LATER: FLORIDA’S NEW GUN LAW. Oct 05 by Richard Marcus. Blogcritics.org. Share my comment with your lovely bride. GLOCKS ROCK. STAN.

  • Stan, first of all, you’re proving my point that ideologues lack a sense of humor, which is good, because we liberals are accused of the same thing, but I’m a laugh a minute, so liberals are winning over conservatives at least 1-0.

    O.k. licensed, registered gun owners have licensed and registered their guns and have to wear a tag around the neck…like a dog. Personally, I like guns for shooting practice, and I’m not bad. But I hate wearing things around my neck, so I guess I won’t be buying one.

    As for entering the realm of BS, I hope to God I never leave it. I stated very clearly in my article that I wasn’t speaking from statistical or scientific evidence, but I’ve heard it a number of times. We all think we could pull the trigger, but the reality is that most people can’t…and you can never tell who they are. Read (that means get a book–you know those things with words on pages) up on the pyschology of stress and how people react. You’d be surprised at what happens to people under stress.

    I’m sure a macho, alpha-type male like yourself is convinced he could pull the trigger…but…well, it ain’t that easy.

    As to the comments about my wife…they were a joke. So was the play on words, arm bears. Do you understand the word “joke?” I’m trying to lighten up this conversation so we can discuss rather than sling stupid personal attacks.

    Lighten up. Drink more Jameson. For as I continually say,

    In Jameson Veritas

  • STAN

    Mark, You just opened the candy store for me. Goodnight Mr. Bad Ass lightbulb killer.

  • Cryptic is good only when it’s possible to decode it. what are you talking about. and if you find any dark chocolate in the candy store, save some for me.

    And for your information, I don’t kill lightbulbs…that is, too many. I replace them & most of them work.

    Stan, no offense, but you’re being weird..which is a good thing…but you’ve got to give me something to work with.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • Stan, I just got a comment on my in-box, but it’s not showing up here…from what I can tell, I’m not going to like it. If you want, I’ll post it here…but the formatting may be all screwed up.

  • Joey


    If enough people are armed, the police will get the idea. It’s not about putting rounds out. It’s about whoever picks the short straw gets to kick the door down.

  • Stan

    Joey, Im with you on this. Mark#23 said he got a comment on his-inbox, but nothing is showing up. I know it went through BC. Not only did I check fresh comment and found it, I also read it on this blog. What happened. Dont know. Maybe the bc editor can clear this up. Ya right. Gone with the wind.

  • Mao

    “Real power comes out of the barrel of a gun”

  • Stan


  • Stan, you have some personal problems you really should seek professional attention for. The level of your anger far outweighs the issues being discussed. How can anyone take you seriously when you spread hatred and death to all who disagree with you?

    And Mao, sorry, but if I’m going to follow a philosopher, your name-sake is definitely not the person I’d choose. You really want to be compared to one of the great mass murderers in the history of the world?

    Where do we find these people? They clearly are not paying attention to the cardinal rule:

    In Jamesons Veritas

  • Stan

    Mark, I did get professional help. It did wonders. Where do we find these people you ask. Red states of course. You must have taken me seriously dip-stick. Why else would you respond to my comment. Mao nor I are paying attention to your wimp liberal views. Let’s confuse the facts Mr. Mark. Like the Cardinal rule is your standard barrier. Please allow me to vomit dip-stick. In my future comments if any I should make just dont play attention to the man behind the curtain.

  • Stan, you continue to misunderstand me, which, in all honesty, happens a lot because I use humor for all circumstances even when it’s not appropriate.

    My hope is that we can disagree without the anger. Some of my favorite bloggers have views that are 180 degrees from mine, but we’ve put each others blogs on our sites because we can discuss things without resorting to personal insults.

    I have done that in this thread, and I apologize. There are probably more things about which we agree than disagree…and we should be able to disagree with dignity and mutual respect.

    So…howz about a truce?

  • Stan

    Mark#30, Was just reading your comment#14 4-17-06 on Ruvy’s Blog 4-16-06 concerning (The Persian Empire Reborn.) Excellent Mark. Maybe their is some hope for you after all. No apologizes necessary Mark. You might be right about more agreements then disagreements. As for dignity and mutual respect on my part, that went out the window with the baby in the bath water thing years ago. Are you just buttering me up dude?

    Enjoy your day.


  • Stan,

    I don’t waste butter on people…only cooking. I’m just getting tired as I get older of rudeness & personal attacks when I can have just as much fun arguing hystically over issues. I haven’t lost the passion for the fight…I just have lost the passion for making enemies & hurting people.

    Trust me, I’m not soft. Underneath the new me is a junk-yard dog. I just try to keep him leashed.

    Thanks for your comment.


  • Stan

    Your welcome junk-yard-dog.