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The High Court Supports Police in No-Knock Search Case

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that evidence may be used in trials even if police officers failed to knock before entering a home.

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  • MARGARET WARNER:

    A divided court ruled today that evidence can be used against a defendant, even if police didn't knock before entering to execute a search warrant for the evidence. Here to explain the 5-4 decision is NewsHour regular Marcia Coyle, Washington bureau chief for the National Law Journal.

    Marcia, welcome back.

  • MARCIA COYLE, National Law Journal:

    Thanks, Margaret.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Now, this was an — eight years ago, this event happened, and it was a drug and gun search. Tell us the circumstances.

  • MARCIA COYLE:

    Police in Michigan obtained a search warrant to search the home of Booker Hudson for guns and drugs. They arrived at his home; they shouted, "Police search warrant!" And, in reportedly less than five seconds, opened the door and went in.

    There was never any dispute that the police did violate the knock and announce rule that the Supreme Court said is required by the Fourth Amendment, which, as you know, protects all of us against unreasonable searches and seizures.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    And the knock and announce rule says that, in fact, they have to knock on the door?

  • MARCIA COYLE:

    Right, and announce that it is the police.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    So the debate was really not about whether they violated that but about what the consequences should be?

  • MARCIA COYLE:

    Absolutely. What is the remedy for violating the Fourth Amendment by violating the knock and announce rule?

    The traditional remedy, with some exceptions, has been that any evidence seized as a result of the illegal search is to be suppressed. It cannot be used against the defendant at his trial.