4th Amendment? What 4th Amendment? Supremes Say Police Can Create Conditions To Enter Home Without A Warrant

from the did-they-really-say-that? dept

We've been discussing various ways that our government and the courts have been slowly chipping away at the 4th Amendment, what with warrantless wiretaps, searching laptops, TSA agents groping people, etc. And the Supreme Court just took a huge chunk out of the 4th Amendment in saying that police can raid homes without a warrant if there are "exigent circumstances" -- even if those "exigent circumstances" are created by the police themselves.

The law, to date, had been that police cannot enter a home without a warrant unless they had both (a) probable cause and (b) "exigent circumstances" in which getting a warrant would not make sense. In this case, police were searching for a drug dealer who had gone into an apartment complex. Outside of one apartment, they smelled marijuana -- which created probable cause. At this point, they should have obtained a warrant. Instead, they banged on the door and shouted police. At which point they heard a scramble inside, and busted in the door, claiming that they believed the scramble was the possible destruction of the drugs. The argument then was that this noise -- even though it was entirely created due to police action -- represented exigent circumstances that allowed them to bust in the door without a warrant. The Kentucky Supreme Court said that while the noise might be exigent circumstances, since it was illegally created by the police, it could not be used.

Tragically, the Supreme Court -- by an 8-to-1 vote -- has now disagreed, saying that this is perfectly consistent with the 4th Amendment. With all due respect to the 8 Justices and the Court, I can't see how that's reasonable at all. This sets up a dreadful situation which will be abused regularly by law enforcement. It lets them create yet another situation where they may avoid oversight, by creating their own exigent circumstances, and then using that as an excuse for avoiding a warrant and any required oversight or limitations. I believe that Justice Ginsburg's dissent is much more compelling. Her dissent points out that exigent circumstances are only supposed to be used in very rare circumstances when getting a warrant is not possible or practical. Yet, in this case, the police easily could have secured a warrant quickly upon smelling marijuana.
That heavy burden has not been carried here. There was little risk that drug-related evidence would have been destroyed had the police delayed the search pending a magistrate’s authorization. As the Court recognizes, "[p]ersons in possession of valuable drugs are unlikely to destroy them unless they fear discovery by the police." ... Nothing in the record shows that, prior to the knock at the apartment door, the occupants were apprehensive about police proximity.
In fact, she notes that "Home intrusions, the Court has said, are indeed 'the chief evil against which . . .the Fourth Amendment is directed.'" So it seems positively ridiculous to claim that such a home invasion is acceptable under the 4th Amendment. This is a tragically bad ruling by the Supreme Court that will have massive and dangerous consequences. We already have law enforcement pushing the boundaries of individual privacy rights, and now they have even more tools to take that further.


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  1.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 3:15pm

    Figures

    This is the equivalent of the typical BS cop move of jerking you one way, and then claiming that your attempt to regain your balance was 'resisting.'

    I wish I could say that I was surprised that the Supremes seem to be overwhelmingly in favor of such crap.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 3:19pm

    Obviously

    This wasn't a situation of "home invasion".

    Couldn't be, the 'victims (I hate that word)' lived in an apartment.

    If the victims lived in a $750,000 house, on the other hand--the kind which Supreme Court justices are likely to inhabit--it would be a very different situation.

    The 4th Amendment is as strong as ever; if you're wealthy.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 3:21pm

    i see an unfortunate turn to this ruling. The incidence of cops being shot is going to increase greatly.

     

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    Steven (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 3:24pm

    It's truly sad to live through the decline of a once great nation. I have no faith that we'll be able to pull ourselves out of this current direction in time. I don't know what the end will look like, or how long it will take to get there, but it seems to be coming.

     

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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 3:28pm

    Oh, good.

    Now the police will be able to get on the supply side of the home invasion racket.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 3:31pm

    Why take down one amendment at the time? Why not just scrap the whole constitution and be done with it? It's what they'll end up doing anyway.

     

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    Khstapp, May 17th, 2011 @ 3:33pm

    I heard a noise

    Great stuff from the Supremes. Now whenever the police want to break into your home without a warrant the can simply say 'I heard a noise that sounded like ____.' Gonna create a great maket for steel doorframes and reinforced doors.

     

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    Jon B. (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 3:34pm

    I guess it depends on the "scrambling..."

    Based on this post, it sounds like the cops were in the wrong.

    However, it sounds like SCOTUS would be right in concluding that "exigent circumstances" can include those instigated by the police in certain ways:

    Police get called to domestic disturbance. Police knock on door, and say "Hello! Police Department!" (assuming that identifying themselves is necessary for this hypothetical situation...) Police then hear gunfire that was obviously instigated by them shouting "Police Department!" and/or knocking.

    Is it ok for them to enter? There's a big difference between "scrambling" and gunfire, but a hard line saying that "exigent circumstances" can't be "created" by police.

    "The Kentucky Supreme Court held that the exigent circumstances rule does not apply in the case at hand because the police should have foreseen that their conduct would prompt the occupants to attempt to destroy evidence,” Alito wrote. “We reject this interpretation of the exigent circumstances rule. The conduct of the police prior to their entry into the apartment was entirely lawful. They did not violate the Fourth Amendment or threaten to do so. In such a situation, the exigent circumstances rule applies."

    I see nothing wrong with that paragraph as written if it is indeed truthful.

    Now, the real issue here is that police are doing this when the crime is simply possession of drugs that lots of people don't think should be illegal in the first place. Now, if you want to argue whether those drugs should be illegal, that's a valid debate worth having. But that issue should be argued separately from whether "exigent circumstances" can be created by police.

    I'll agree and concede that the burden of proof should be on the police to PROVE that the "scrambling" they heard really met the proper criteria. I just don't think whether the police knocked first should have anything to do with it.

     

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    Rob Bodine (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 3:51pm

    Your hyperbole doesn’t help, Techdirt. This majority decision doesn’t feel right to me, but this isn’t as easy a case as you state. (Actually, the 8-1 decision should have been your first clue on that one.) There was a strong odor of marijuana, and that doesn’t suggest that there’s marijuana hermetically sealed in plastic and stored underneath the floorboards. It suggests that it’s being consumed, and thus destroyed. If the defendants were merely “cutting” the drugs for distribution, which also could explain the smell’s strength, there’d still be exigent circumstances, as there’s reason to believe that the drugs were soon to be moved. Exigent circumstances existed before the cops even knocked, despite Justice Ginsberg’s assertion otherwise. Moreover, it’s absolutely true, as the majority points out, that “in some sense the police always create the exigent circumstances.” I agree, of course, that this is ripe for abuse, but that’s always the case with the Fourth Amendment and is why we have the courts.

    This is a tough case. I wish you could see that.

     

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    Christopher (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 3:52pm

    Re: I heard a noise

    Agreed totally.... the more rulings I see from the Supreme Court like this, the more I think that these old idiots on the court have gone insane or demented.

    There is no reason why 'just hearing a noise' that sounds like scrambling should allow the police into a home.

    With that reasoning, the police could say that just because they hear a woman groaning/screaming, they can assume that a woman is being raped.... and they will be witnesses to a lot of home births in that situation!

    They can say that just because they hear a child yelling, that they can assume the child is being raped.... and will walk in on a lot of cases of parents tickling their children or playing with their children.

    The Fourth Amendment is getting weaker and weaker as time goes on because of stupid rulings from the Supreme Court like this one.

     

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    Christopher (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 3:55pm

    Re:

    Sorry, but it's not a 'tough case' in the slightest. They could have EASILY called in for a 'quick warrant' from a judge, which takes maybe 5 minutes. I doubt that would really be a 'long' time to wait nor raise the possibility that 'evidence might be destroyed'.

    This is weakening the law to the point where the police are going to say "WHY THE HELL SHOULD BE BOTHER WITH A WARRANT ANYWAY! WE WILL JUST CLAIM EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES!"

    I can very well see them doing that in the future.

     

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    Christopher (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 3:57pm

    Re:

    If we don't start stopping them with protests and even, I have to reluctantly say, physical violence.... yes, they will.

    It's getting to the point where I have to say that there needs to be a second American Civil War to reinstate the Constitution's protections, and that a bunch of these idiots on the Supreme Court need to be arrested and thrown in prison for violating the oath they swear to uphold the Constitution.

     

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    crade (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 4:02pm

    Re: I guess it depends on the "scrambling..."

    Agreed, the trouble here is that people don't think disposing of drugs is really that big a deal.

    No one would be complaining if the police knocked on the door and the perps reacted by attempting to dispose of their hostages and the police busted in and saved them. It makes sense to have this rule (yes, even if the police knock). You just need to make sure it's actually an emergency or at least they believe it's a real emergency.

     

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    LennyB, May 17th, 2011 @ 4:03pm

    Re:

    It makes me sick to my stomach too. Sometimes I like to dilude myself into thinking it's going to be ok. I persuade myself into thinking that the US isn't as bad as the new's leads us to believe. Bad news is the primary focus of 90% of the media's reporting efforts after all (espeically TechDirt).

    Than I remember that the bad news I have been reading is REALLY BAD NEWS! It speaks of a level of greed and curruption beyond redemption. It gives me a terrible feeling of helplessness when I hear about shit like the Protect IP/COICA sham. I can't believe we have elected officals that get away with even proposing these kind of ideas without being mercilessly ridiculed, and eventually never spoken of again. It speaks volumns of the American people that we let it happen. Police are being granted powers that our great grandparents would have killed people over, and Supreme Court Justices are backing it up!

    There is one hope though in my eyes, but it's such a dim hope that I might take it as a sign that God is real if it happens. The hope is, once this perpetual downward spiral ends, it can be rebuilt. It aint like the old days though. We have over 300 million people living in the United States now. At the end of that downward spiral, how are 300 million Americans going to handle it? Civil War probably. I think I already know what side I'd be on if it happens in my lifetime...

    On my own, in the woods. Possibly in a van down by the river.

     

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    Christopher (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 4:04pm

    Re:

    I have to agree with that. I would not be surprised if people after seeing this ruling start to arm themselves and 'shoot first and ask questions later' when someone breaks into their home.

     

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    bordy (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 4:07pm

    Toilets flushing, obviously

    What does the "destruction of evidence" sound like?

     

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    crade (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 4:09pm

    Re: Toilets flushing, obviously

    "Oh shit!", shuffle shuffle, crash, flush, flush :)

     

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    Christopher (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 4:09pm

    Re: Toilets flushing, obviously

    Actually, a toilet flushing could just be someone in the home going to the bathroom. Again, the police should ALWAYS have to get a warrant unless they hear something that equates to someone being in imminent danger of death: gunshots being the most common thing; or see something that tells them that someone is seriously injured (a blood pool, etc.).

     

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    crade (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 4:11pm

    Re: Re: Toilets flushing, obviously

    Agreed, but whether or not they knocked and yelled police first should make no difference at all.

     

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    Steven (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 4:12pm

    Re: I guess it depends on the "scrambling..."

    I would argue that "exigent circumstances" should be limited to the prevention of expected or believed bodily harm.

    Hear a gunshot? Okay
    Hear somebody screaming for help? Okay
    Hear movement in a house? Better get a damn warrant or have a defensible reason to believe that bodily harm has or is about to take place.

     

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    david, May 17th, 2011 @ 4:13pm

    this is kentucky were talking about it will be overturned on appeal. kentucky has nine out of ten rulings overturned.

     

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    Judge Dredd, May 17th, 2011 @ 4:14pm

    And that's why...

    .... and that's why the Constitution includes the right to bear arms.

    When the government got too corrupt it was the right AND DUTY of it's citizens to overthrow it and establish a new government.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 4:20pm

    Re:

    Firstly, I'm not familiar with law in Kentucky by any measure. The only place in Kentucky I've ever stopped for any measure of time was in Slade... population 2 1/2 teeth. I feel like I have a solid grasp of right and wrong though, so my opinion matters because of that.

    Breaking down a door without obtaining a warrent b/c of smelling marijuana is against the law, even if somebody has tap dancing shoe's on, and is making shit tons of racket. (please consider my strong sense of right and wrong.)

    2ndly Breaking down a door without a warrent for anything but sounds of gun fire, or somebody inside the residence getting viciously beat to death is against the law too. I don't fucking care what the Kentucky Supreme Court Justices say.

    Time to arm yourself citizens, the police and/or government is that much closer to becoming our full blown enemy.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 4:20pm

    Welcome to 1984. All this will be recorded in history of how the USA changed from the beacon of democracy to a police state run by corporations.

     

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  25.  
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    Liz, May 17th, 2011 @ 4:21pm

    Top 10 Reasons the Police can break down your door.

    10. Is that pot I smell?
    9. I think I hear a woman screaming.
    8. I smell smoke.
    7. Do you her a baby crying?
    6. It's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.
    5. Did you understand what he said? No? Me either.
    4. There's someone with a camera in there!
    3. If they aren't doing anything wrong, then they have nothing to worry about.
    2. Warrant? We don't need no stinking warrants!

    And the number one Reason the Police can break down your door:

    1. So, what story are we using this time?

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 4:24pm

    Re:

    There was a strong odor of marijuana...

    Oh yeah, DRUGS! Along with terrorism, one of the most popular excuses for eliminating constitutional rights.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 4:31pm

    Re: Re:

    I don't fucking care what the Kentucky Supreme Court Justices say.

    Umm, the Kentucky Supreme Court agreed with you, it's the US Supreme Court that has now gutted the 4th amendment. So this ruling now applies nation-wide, with no chance of appeal.

     

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    PRMan, May 17th, 2011 @ 4:35pm

    Re: Re:

    "On my own, in the woods. Possibly in a van down by the river."

    "Just like the Unabomber, your honor..."

     

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    Rich, May 17th, 2011 @ 4:35pm

    Re:

    You don't take away MY constitutional rights because you smell marijuana.

     

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    William, May 17th, 2011 @ 4:37pm

    Offbase

    In this case, I disagree with your assessment.

    The police were in hot pursuit of a drug dealer who the police had just witnessed obtaining drugs. They were just far enough behind to not see which of two doors he'd entered. They knocked on one of the doors and announced themselves after which they heard someone inside apparently trying to destroy evidence. After they didn't respond, they kicked the door in and oh hey look, there's 'another' druggie trying to destroy his stash.

    I'd generally disagree however in this case it was just his really shitty luck that the police actually did have enough cause to kick the door.

     

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    Wise (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 4:44pm

    First off I'll say that anything to do with marijuana in general is getting sort of old, but until the law is passed stating it as being perfectly legal to own, produce, sell and consume the substance, there's very little you can do about it.

    From the facts mentioned, there was a drug dealer. The cops had reasonable assumption that the dealer was in the apartment, either from an eye-witness or anonymous tip or otherwise. While I agree that obtaining the warrant would have been the best case scenario, they smelled marijuana (which the possession of, is illegal) and decided to make contact with the suspected apartment. After stating their business (It's the cops), they waited and heard a scuffle - immediately upon making their presence known, after which they made a snap judgement and broke in. Once inside: "They saw drugs in plain view during a protective sweep of the apartment and found additional evidence during a subsequent search."

    Sadly, the ends justify the means. Not to say the drugs weren't planted or that the cops could be bad people, but this (to me at least) sounds perfectly reasonable.

     

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    Jordan (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 4:49pm

    Re: Re:

    Didn't we see earlier this week a ruling that resisting an illegal entry into your home by the cops was itself illegal

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 4:50pm

    Call it what you want, but ANYONE that busts through my door unannounced gets a bullet to the head. Period. It's not uncommon in my area for local thugs to yell police before busting into your home taking you hostage and holding you at gun point while their associates take your ATM card to the local bank and clean you out.

    No-knock warrants and warrant-less entries are dangerous for all involved and I can think of very few situations where the risk is worth it, no quantity of drugs is worth the risk of losing a child, elderly person, or police officer.

    Remember it is the 1st and 2nd that makes all other the others possible.

     

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  34.  
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    Zach Mollett (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 4:53pm

    Re:

    So if they yell, "Police! Open up! We have a Warrant!" that makes it less likely for you to pull a gun on them?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 4:59pm

    Re: Offbase

    Pure bullshit.

    So lets say your a drug dealer running from the cops. You finally give them the slip in an apartment complex. Then you decide hey, I'll just go ahead and spark up a joint while I'm hiding from the cops!

    Smelling weed in no way shape or form gave them the right to break into that apartment. Last apartment I lived in had skunky smelling bushes all around the place that smelled like weed. by that logic cops could have walked through those apartments anytime they wanted.

     

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    Zach Mollett (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 5:03pm

    Re: Re: Offbase

    Did you have any drug dealers living in the skunky apartments? If not, then they should have because according to you they'd get away scott free.

     

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    jkirch, May 17th, 2011 @ 5:06pm

    I don't see how this is a huge sleight against the 4th, hearing scrambling or rustling or whatever is really shitty "exigent circumstances", but the police were looking for a drug dealer and they smelled marijuana, assuming marijuana is a drug, and drug dealers sell drugs, the person they were looking for could've potentially been there. It's not some huge logical leap or anything... looking for a drug dealer and smelling drugs isn't too far off from

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 5:06pm

    Re:

    Errr? You really think the state can overturn the US Supreme Court? Really?

     

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    Jay (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 5:06pm

    Re: Re:

    How is protesting doing anything?

    It's not reported by the media because no major channel wants to ruffle feathers with their advertisers. And when one of the advertisers is the US government and all of its subsidiaries (all 267+ of them...) we have a HUGE problem.

     

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    Jim O (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 5:10pm

    This decision is going to make me rethink...

    This ruling may put a damper on my "incense that smells like pot" business.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 5:13pm

    Re: Re:

    If given the opportunity to look out the window and verify that they are in a police car, and actually see the officer on my door step then I have no problem at all.

    But if my door gets kicked in while I'm naked and half asleep I can't promise that everyone would survive that encounter.

     

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    anyone, May 17th, 2011 @ 5:18pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Please report to your local fusion center to be processed to the closed Internment camp I mean FEMA refuge center.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 5:18pm

    Re:

    Drug dealers also like nice cars and rap music, so if a drug dealer is on the loose can cops bust into any home with a Esclade in front or Snoop dog playing on the radio?

     

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    compgeek (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 5:24pm

    R.I.P.

    here lies the 4th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Born 12/15/1791 by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, murdered 5/17/2011 by the Supreme Court in an 8-1 vote.

     

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    Rob, May 17th, 2011 @ 5:27pm

    Unfortunate?

    I don't think that word means what you think it means.

     

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    compgeek (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 5:34pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    thats why i have a 16 inch genuine gurkha kukri (masquerading as a display piece) on my night stand and a loaded .30 rifle in easy reach. i know how to use both and luckily havent had to do more than brandish them at the druggies looking for my apartments previous tenant (bad neighborhood). ANYONE who kicks my door in and enters without my permission will get 1 between the eyes. and i am a good shot. i can turn a nickel into a washer at about 100 yards if my scope is dialed in at least halfway decent.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 5:43pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Who cares, let the Revolution begin...

     

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  48.  
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    Robsoundslikaastroturfer, May 17th, 2011 @ 5:43pm

    Re:

    Rob, equating the consumption of drugs to illegal destruction of evidence is a terrible stretch (the reason drug consumers possess drugs is to consume the drugs). So is deciding certain amounts/strength of smell equates to packaging for distribution(atleast in the context of Cannabis).

    Different strains, growth environments, age, quality, being bagged, form of consumption (vaporizing, smoking, baking), etc change the strength of smell for Cannabis. Ever heard of LA Confidential? Its a strain of Cannabis that doesnt smell nearly as strong as others. Then there are skunk strains which are typically very pungent.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 5:46pm

    Wow, I guess we're pretty close to martial law now. Now they just need to shut down free speech...

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 5:51pm

    So one thing that I have noticed that many of you have not is the sentence that reads, "In this case, police were searching for a drug dealer who had gone into an apartment complex." This is most likely a result of the suspect fleeing a crime. That in it self creates an exigent circumstance, because the cops have no idea if the suspect is armed or not, and while in the apartment could be arming himself with a deadly weapon. The police most likely did not create the exigency, they where merely attempting to safeguard the lives and the property of the public. In the case brief it self, the officers stated that the movements inside the house where consistent with the sounds of the destruction of evidence. The sound of the bath tub running and the flush of the porcelain thrones you all sit on mocking this case can create it. The cops merely knocked on the door of the apartment they saw the suspect go into. There is absolutely no 4th amendment violation. The suspect did something wrong and the police caught him. Your paranoia of the cops is absolutely unjustified and flat our retarded. Go read the law enforcement code of ethics.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 5:58pm

    Re: I guess it depends on the "scrambling..."

    Police get called to domestic disturbance. Police knock on door, and say "Hello! Police Department!" (assuming that identifying themselves is necessary for this hypothetical situation...) Police then hear gunfire that was obviously instigated by them shouting "Police Department!" and/or knocking.

    Is it ok for them to enter? There's a big difference between "scrambling" and gunfire, but a hard line saying that "exigent circumstances" can't be "created" by police.


    Emphasis mine.

    In your example, the "exigent circumstances" were not created by the police - the circumstances were made "exigent" by the call.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 6:10pm

    Re:

    This majority decision doesn’t feel right to me, but this isn’t as easy a case as you state. (Actually, the 8-1 decision should have been your first clue on that one.) There was a strong odor of marijuana, and that doesn’t suggest that there’s marijuana hermetically sealed in plastic and stored underneath the floorboards. It suggests that it’s being consumed, and thus destroyed.

    That's probable cause. That's not exigent circumstances. And they could have called for a warrant.

    Moreover, it’s absolutely true, as the majority points out, that “in some sense the police always create the exigent circumstances.”

    That's a total cop out. In this case, the exigent circumstances the cops relied on were entirely of their own making.

    Saying that they always create exigent circumstances is misdirection, at best.

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Mr Big Content, May 17th, 2011 @ 6:37pm

    Re: The incidence of cops being shot is going to increase greatly.

    Amen to that, Brother. The Second Amendment is the one part of the Constitution they will take away over our cold, dead bodies. All the rest of it can go fuck itself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 6:52pm

    Re:

    Yes Sir! Absolutely right, officer. Move along, nothing to see here.

    Lol. You even write like a cop.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 7:35pm

    Re: Re:

    who would the second civil war be against? the government itself? that would work well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    zegota, May 17th, 2011 @ 7:35pm

    Quite the inflammatory headline, given that it was the Kentucky State Supreme Court and not a federal court.

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, May 17th, 2011 @ 7:39pm

    Re:

    I don't see how this is a huge sleight against the 4th, hearing scrambling or rustling or whatever is really shitty "exigent circumstances", but the police were looking for a drug dealer and they smelled marijuana, assuming marijuana is a drug, and drug dealers sell drugs, the person they were looking for could've potentially been there. It's not some huge logical leap or anything... looking for a drug dealer and smelling drugs isn't too far off from

    Consider this; You live in an apartment building. Police chase a drug dealer into your building, but temporarily lose him as he runs into your corridor and disappears into one of the apartments. The police arrive in the corridor and smell pot, because your neighbor directly across the hall happens to be smoking some at that moment. They can't tell which apartment the smell is coming from. They take a chance and knock on your door, yelling "Open up! Police!" This startles you and you accidentally knock something over. As you walk to the door to open it, it suddenly gets kicked in, hitting you right in the face, breaking your nose and a couple teeth. Police rush in, slam you to the ground, twist your arms behind your back, put a gun to your head and start screaming "WHERE IS HE???"

    Later, you try to sue the police department for unlawfully breaking into your home, but the court rules that what they did was completely legal because they heard a noise and thought that the person inside was destroying evidence, which gave them the right to break down your door.

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    LyleD, May 17th, 2011 @ 7:49pm

    Re: tard

    Try reading the article properly. It usually helps to be right when you're slagging people off..

    Kentucky upheld the constitution.. It was the Federal Supreme Court that trashed it.

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 7:56pm

    Re:

    Reading comprehension not your strong suit?

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-1272.pdf

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Ed C., May 17th, 2011 @ 7:58pm

    Re:

    Sadly, it all really comes down to #6. Sure, they'll ask for forgiveness after the fact, then a settlement, but it's a hard court ruling against them that makes them think twice. Now that the possibility of a lawsuit for unlawful entry has been taken off the table, they don't even have to ask for forgiveness.

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    Ed C., May 17th, 2011 @ 8:06pm

    Re:

    They're already hard at work on that one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    icon
    Rose M. Welch (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 8:15pm

    Re:

    There was a strong odor of marijuana, and that doesn’t suggest that there’s marijuana hermetically sealed in plastic and stored underneath the floorboards. It suggests that it’s being consumed, and thus destroyed.

    If they have so little marijuana that it can be consumed in the five minutes that it takes to get a warrant, then the cops shouldn't even be there. They have more important things to worry about.

     

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  63.  
    icon
    Christopher (profile), May 17th, 2011 @ 10:03pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You are forgetting that the first American civil war was against our governing body: the Monarchy of Great Britain.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 10:06pm

    Re: Re:

    "the Protect IP/COICA sham."

    That's nothing compared to the corruption that exists among the FDA (and the rest of the government) and pharmaceutical/medical and agricultural industries. Reading about the corruption in those industries is far worse than what Techdirt covers. Eventually I stopped, it's too disturbing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    DogBreath, May 17th, 2011 @ 10:10pm

    Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2011 @ 11:05pm

    I tend to think this is crap. No warrant, no entry without probable cause. To do otherwise setups up fishing expeditions to find something illegal.

    No one seems to have pieced together that cops can have an ulterior motive beyond finding the bad guy. Not to long ago in the news, a couple of cops were caught discussing what could be taken in the line of property for sale by the city. Once a drug charge is involved, confiscation of property comes next, with the funds from sale being split between participating cop departments if more than one is involved. Otherwise it all goes to the home station.

    This is begging for a reason to break in without warrant with a made up excuse. A dirty cop can always plant the evidence of drugs later.

     

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  67.  
    icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 1:33am

    Lyrics getting strained?

    Land of the free (as long as you do exactly what you're told)
    and the Home of the Brave (enough to mutter under your breath when the authorities bend you over to take it). hmmmm the tune might need changing.

    A shining example for democracy everywhere, bravo! *polite clap*. Next thing you know you'll be just as far down the road towards police state as the UK.....

     

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  68.  
    identicon
    Ryan Diederich, May 18th, 2011 @ 4:51am

    Hmmmm

    So the police knock on my door, they hear me standing up and scream HES MOVING BUST DOWN THE DOOR and when they get inside they tackle me, on my way to answer the door.

    Of course, why would we put ANY limitations on police, they are always soo lawful and correct in their actions.

    As a matter of fact, last night while with friends the cops came and accused them of breaking into the house, despite us having a key. They then searched the house. Its a bunch of crap, my local law enforcement is known for it.

     

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  69.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 5:51am

    Solution

    Looks like we'll have to go back to moats and draw bridges around our castles.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
    icon
    Vincent Clement (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 5:58am

    Re:

    Your constitution wasn't meant to last for over 200 years. It was meant to be a living document that changed with the times. Yes, there have been several amendments to it, but at some point, you may want to draft a new constitution for the next 100 or so years.

    I'm certain that the founding fathers would be flabbergasted to see their document being used today.

     

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  71.  
    icon
    Vincent Clement (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 6:02am

    Oh, America, what have you become?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72.  
    icon
    Jon B. (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 7:04am

    Re: Re: I guess it depends on the "scrambling..."

    Agreed... I don't know why the Kentucky court couldn't just say "Nope, it's a bad search because it wasn't exigent" instead of trying to carve out a whole new definition of terms.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73.  
    icon
    Thomas (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 7:26am

    Just shows..

    that the courts are firmly on the side of "law and order" and Constitutional protections are now ignored.

    The police and the federal spooks know they can now get away with simply bashing into homes with swat teams and doing whatever they want.

    Of course the federal spooks have quite a long history of ignoring constitutional protections, so it doesn't matter to them anyway.

    In the United States, you are far far more likely to be shot by a police officer or a federal spook than any terrorist, especially if you are not white. The function of local police has changed form helping people to arresting criminals by whatever means possible.

    Himmler would have been proud of the SCOTUS today.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74.  
    icon
    Thomas (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 7:29am

    Re: Hmmmm

    law enforcement is not there to help people, but to arrest criminals. Cops get no points for helping people, but get points for arresting criminals, and if they don't meet their quotas, they arrest people on flimsy evidence and railroad them to jail.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75.  
    icon
    Chris Rhodes (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 7:59am

    Re:

    Sadly, the ends justify the means.

    Then the constitution means nothing and we should stop pretending.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, May 18th, 2011 @ 8:00am

    "The suspect did something wrong and the police caught him."

    They did catch the original suspect but he was in another apartment. The people who sued over having there house raided had nothing to do the original suspect.

    "In the case brief it self, the officers stated that the movements inside the house where consistent with the sounds of the destruction of evidence. The sound of the bath tub running and the flush of the porcelain thrones you all sit on mocking this case can create it."

    Maybe I missed that part here is what I see:
    "Cobb said that “[a]s soon as [the officers]started banging on the door,” they “could hear people inside moving,” and “[i]t sounded as [though] things were being moved inside the apartment.”Id.,at 24. These noises, Cobb testified, led the officers to believe that drugrelated evidence was about to be destroyed."

    So you bang on the door, than people move = drugs being destroyed? So if the cops bang on my door am I just suppose to lay on the floor with my hands behind my head until they kick the door in, or am I allowed to get up and put some pants on and open the door without getting a gun in my face and broken door frame? I mean how dare anyone move things inside an apartment, seriously put all your things were you want them with the door open so no one can be confused about what you're doing and always maintain a clear path to the door and be prepared to open it for police on a moments notice.

    "they where merely attempting to safeguard the lives and the property of the public."
    Hes a drug dealer not a murderer. I agree they don't know if he is arming himself, but if he is and they leave no one is getting hurt. If he is armed he only becomes a threat when the police engage him.

    "The suspect did something wrong and the police caught him. Your paranoia of the cops is absolutely unjustified and flat our retarded."
    They also kicked down the door of two citizens doing their private business in their private residence due to a smell in a hallway and movement upon having their door banged on. Luckily for the cops those people where doing drugs so no one cares if their rights were trampled, I wish it was a Kentucky state senator banging his mistress than this would have been a much better case.

     

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  77.  
    icon
    Chris Rhodes (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 8:01am

    Re: Re: Re:

    SWAT Team Guns Down Marine

    He survived two tours in Iraq, but a SWAT team filled him full of holes. What chance do you think you have?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78.  
    identicon
    DogBreath, May 18th, 2011 @ 8:04am

    Re: Re:

    I'm certain that the founding fathers would be flabbergasted to see their document being used today.

    I'm certain they would be pleased at it lasting this long, but not so pleased at some of the activist judges (on all sides) who have made rulings seemingly based on their own personal beliefs rather than the rule and spirit of the law.

    Why change the Constitution when you can just change the definitions of what the legal terms mean? You don't need to Congress to vote on it, nor the States to ratify it. Sooo much easier.

    History has shown us time and time again, any government that subjugates the will of it's people long enough, ultimately ends up destroying itself by overreaching it's granted authority. Power can come from the barrels of guns, but those guns must have more and more people behind them to enforce draconian laws, until a tipping point is reached and a revolution takes place.


    So, is a new Constitution possible?: Yes.

    Odds on getting one without those in power stepping down and/or a revolution/civil war?: Slim to none.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  79.  
    identicon
    DogBreath, May 18th, 2011 @ 8:24am

    Re: Hmmmm

    As a matter of fact, last night while with friends the cops came and accused them of breaking into the house, despite us having a key. They then searched the house. Its a bunch of crap, my local law enforcement is known for it.

    Well, if you happen to live in Indiana, what the cops did appears to be legal now.

    http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_ec169697-a19e-525f-a532-81b3df2 29697.html

    INDIANAPOLIS | Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes.

    In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer's entry.

    "We believe ... a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence," David said.



    So if you don't open the door, they'll break it down and enter for whatever "just cause", and if you do open the door, they can come in, and anything they find will be admissible in court because the cops will say you "let them in" and didn't object.

    Sounds like the perfect example of "Damned if you do, damned if you don't."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80.  
    identicon
    Amaress, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re: The incidence of cops being shot is going to increase greatly.

    Actually, a great deal of Americans aren't smart enough to protect their gun rights. They don't foresee having the use them on the government they created.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  81.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Offbase

    Not true at all. Its not tough to get a legit warrant quickly if they have some kind evidence to justify searching the home.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  82.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Offbase

    Next up cops will start making us put them up for the night when they need a place to sleep.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  83.  
    icon
    Steve R. (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 10:23am

    The Sad Ending to the Flower Power Generation

    Back in the 60s and the 70s, the youth of this Nation rose-up for freedom and peace. Now many of these same people are in positions of National leadership. Obama, who is ostensibly (but not really) a baby boomer is supposed to be a constitutional lawyer. It is quite depressing to see the Flower Children bring us Orwell's 1984 police state.

    As another example, TechDirt also posted RIAA Calls 4th Amendment Passe: Pushes For Warrantless Searches.

     

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  84.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 12:22pm

    This ruling would seem to disproportionally effect lower income Americans. If someone lives in a tiny apartment, almost anything going on inside may be heard from outside but in large homes, very little may be heard. And if someone lives on a large piece of property with a gate at their driveway, almost no activity inside the house can be heard from the gate.

    So it seems people with larger homes may have more 4th amendment protections than those with small homes/apartments.

     

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  85.  
    identicon
    So long 4th admendment, May 18th, 2011 @ 12:48pm

    The lasting legacy of 8yrs of bush pushing ultra conservatives on the bench.

     

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  86.  
    identicon
    Peter, May 18th, 2011 @ 12:56pm

    Bang on door = silence?

    So they banged on the door and heard people move. What did they expect to hear? The sound of people ignoring the knock on the door?

    The next reason for busting down the door will be "we knocked but didn't hear anthing so we assumed they were hiding from us"

     

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  87.  
    icon
    Gene Cavanaugh (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 6:14pm

    Supreme Court and the 4th amendment

    I've long believed this is the worst Supreme Court ever, and with this that perception is reinforced.

     

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  88.  
    identicon
    suomunona, May 19th, 2011 @ 5:27am

    Re:

    Actually, the cops didn't catch the suspect they were chasing. They broke into the wrong apartment and "caught" a couple guys smoking a joint. I don't know that they actually caught the drug dealer they were after in the end, but the guys in the apartment weren't him.

     

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  89.  
    identicon
    Martin, May 19th, 2011 @ 11:31am

    I agree whole heartedly with Anonymous Coward; we are losing our rights more and more every day. The problem here is that for anyone to think that way or say that more and more people say we are being paranoid thus making it seem like we are crazy. I know that I am in fact not paranoid, or crazy however do want to preserve my rights to freedoms and liberties that are granted to me under the US Constitution and one of these rights is the 4th amendment (the one prior to the Supreme court ruling). America is slowly eroding into a country that is loosing its idenity.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  90.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 1:39pm

    Re:

    i see an unfortunate turn to this ruling. The incidence of cops being shot is going to increase greatly.


    Good. When you trample on people's rights you get shot. That should be the official policy.

     

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  91.  
    identicon
    The 4th amendment only for the wealthy elite, May 19th, 2011 @ 6:51pm

    Everyone else must bear arms and unleash the attack dogs to salvage our 4th admendment

     

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  92.  
    identicon
    Elizabeth Conley, Jun 3rd, 2011 @ 4:10am

    What Happened to Justice?

    With such an obviously flawed "judgment" from the SCOTUS, anyone hoping for fairness and decency from our legal system must quail with terror.

    How could 8 supreme court justices be so blatantly contemptuous of the U.S. Constitution?

    As a nation, we are seriously off course.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  93.  
    identicon
    Dan Sharp, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:05am

    This is not the complete story.

    I have a student who is a police officer - he pulled the *original* court opinion. The *real* story is that the cops had already done something known as a "controlled buy" on the perp, THEN followed the person to the apartment, smelled weed, knocked, etc. The article made it sound like they just picked out a random apartment, smelled marijuana, knocked, and used the fact that people were moving around to force the door. That is NOT what happened. The little detail that the cops had *already sold* the guy the dope they ended up confiscating was "omitted"....

     

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  94.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2011 @ 11:42am

    I heard of the police doing this today in my home town. The person wasn’t even their yet they came in, broke down his door and searched his room and found marijuana. It’s so sad that the Jail population since the "war on drugs" mainly targets minorities of color in poor neighborhoods. I am 100 positive there was no odor of weed yet the police claimed to smell it. Why are the jails overcrowded with people for possession of marijuana and non-violent crimes? Putting more people in jail only breeds more poverty because once they leave no one is going to hire them. Studies show investment in education does however, education cuts are becoming the norm and poor people who don’t know their rights are often the victims of police abuse. I value police for what they do but some things just aren’t right and this is a prime example.

     

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  95.  
    identicon
    ur facce, Nov 14th, 2011 @ 11:41am

    ur face

    ur facece can eat aa dick a and ur a a ugly

     

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  96.  
    identicon
    George, Jan 9th, 2012 @ 9:31am

    Re:

    I suggest you reread the original articles.

    The police - did not see the suspect go into that apartment -

    They only saw the suspect enter that apartment complex.

    The door they knocked on could have been anyone's.

    Suppose it was the door of a couple who were necking, that had gotten so intense they were mostly naked and just about to insert. The police knock on the door and start shouting "POLICE!" What Happens? Well I bet you'd hear some "bustling noises", not to mention screaming, coming from that apartment! So the police break the door down and see a screaming crying naked women running away and an enraged man coming towards them.... and the police already have their guns drawn, cocked and pointed......

    result: 1 dead man ("Judge, We thought he was a serial killer/rapist, honest!" )

    Please read more carefully.

     

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  97.  
    identicon
    No One Special, Feb 29th, 2012 @ 11:58am

    Re: I guess it depends on the "scrambling..."

    Just because you believe it shouldn't be illegal doesn't make it legal. Either way they were in the wrong by possesing the drug... however the police could have easily aquired a warrant. Marijuana smokers always save some pot for later when their high dims. Even if a majority got smoked they could still have enough for a legal drug bust.

     

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  98.  
    identicon
    Sumbody, Mar 15th, 2012 @ 11:05am

    First off fuck the law if anything its fucking up more shit then its helping nd 2nd id like to ask a ? WTF happend to us arnt we the ppl arnt we the ones that shuld stand up for are rights ? If you want justice then u fuckin take it if u want the law to be a good fuckin law then make it one stop being pushovers ppl nd stand up for what u believe u have juss as much say as the next nd last person all u have to do is raise ur bitch ass voice lol btw if a cop ever kicks down my door imm chop that lil bitch up better believe that shit son

     

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  99.  
    identicon
    sarah, Aug 7th, 2012 @ 3:06pm

    cops breaking 4th amendment

    well today the chief just walked into my house. i am 14 years old and my parents were at work. he wanted to search with out a search warrant also.

     

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  100.  
    identicon
    derrick, Feb 24th, 2013 @ 6:38pm

    Police was waiting on search warrant to my house but one of them went inside and came back out and they told my dad that they were securing the house is that legal..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  101.  
    identicon
    Steven Rogers, Mar 11th, 2013 @ 4:38pm

    dentist

    Thanks for the info. There is a schererville dentist that my friend went to and I don't get the point of me telling you about my friend's experiences. I am going to shut up now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  102.  
    identicon
    Mary Toyloy, Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 7:00pm

    A victim in her own home under government housing

    I have been attacked supernaturally paranormally and I don't know who to go for help.It happened to Doris Bother and its happening to people worldwide on YouTube.What does the state do.. they made a movie instead.People are dying of in natural causes because they are being attacked privately and are scared to be ridiculed so they don't speak up. The Law is breaking there own amendments. How do we get help if no one wants to listen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  103.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2013 @ 11:08pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on May 17th, 2011 @ 5:46pm

    Obama recently took away our freedom of speech to protest. The injustices just keep coming. If we the people don't stand up and over throw these tyrannies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  104.  
    identicon
    Antiinc, Jan 30th, 2014 @ 1:17pm

    Re: I guess it depends on the "scrambling..."

    In regards to your example, the police saying "Hello! Police Department!" and then hearing gunfire, the exigent circumstances are not the police, who were doing their jobs appropriately, but the gunfire. In your example, had the police's greeting been the exigent circumstance, they would be able to enter the house simply because they had instigated possibly dangerous circumstances by announcing their presence. This could be used anytime, anywhere. Hearing gunfire is, of course, a great reason to enter the house.
    Also, the gunfire, especially if it was not directed at the police, could easily have been instigated by outside forces, such as an argument that had recently escalated inside the house.
    One of the most frustrating things about this case is that it provides hardened criminals an advantage over average citizens who would panic or otherwise show fear at the discovery of a possible police raid, while the criminals who had dealt with police in the past would be able to react calmly and not allow the exigent circumstances.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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