CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

3rd Cir: Police May Not Manufacture Exigency to Justify Warrantless Searches

The decision in United States v. Coles overturns a conviction for possession of crack cocaine and sharpens a split among the federal circuits in cases where police claim that a warrantless search was justified by "exigent circumstances." Prosecutors argued that the search of Terrence Coles' hotel room was valid because police heard rustling sounds and a flushing toilet soon after they announced their presence and therefore feared that evidence was being destroyed.

But defense attorney Jeffrey M. Lindy urged the court to focus on earlier events and argued that the police had no excuse for failing to obtain a warrant prior to approaching the hotel door in the first place. Voting 2-1, the court agreed with Lindy and held that the investigative tactics used by the officers had "impermissibly manufactured the exigency."

Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Leonard I. Garth noted that the agents at first used "subterfuge" to gain entry to the hotel room by falsely claiming they were "room service," and later that they were maintenance workers sent to fix a leak. It was only after those two attempts failed, Garth noted, that the officers identified themselves as police and then heard the toilet flushing. More from The Legal Intelligencer. . . [Mark Godsey]

February 15, 2006 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Case Western Law School to Host Mock Congressional Hearing on NSA Wiretap Controversy

Case_wester On December 16, 2005, the New York Times broke the story that the Bush Administration had ordered the National Security Agency to monitor international telephone calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens with potential al Qaeda links without obtaining warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court. The revelation set off a ferocious political and legal debate, with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter promising a Congressional hearing. Meanwhile, lawyers for convicted terrorists are seeking to re-open their cases, claiming the government may have used evidence procured through unlawful wiretapping.

To help explore the legal, practical, and constitutional issues framing this controversy, Case Western Reserve University School of Law will present a mock Congressional hearing featuring two of the country's foremost experts on national security law: Professor Ruth Wedgwood of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and Professor David Cole of Georgetown University Law Center.

The event, part of the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center's International Debate series, will take place Thursday, February 9 from 4:30-6 p.m. in Room A59 of the law school, 11075 East Blvd. It is free and open to the public, and 1.5 hours of CLE credit is available, pending approval. It will be webcast live at:

More here.  [Mark Godsey]

January 23, 2006 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Al Gore on Warrantless Wiretaps

Sunday, January 8, 2006

Oral Arguments in 4th Amendment Case Today

Hudson v. Michigan


Term: 05-06

Appealed From: Michigan Court of Appeals (April 13, 2005)

Oral Argument: 01-09-06

Subject:4th Amendment, knock and announce, exclusionary rule

Question presented: Does the inevitable discovery doctrine create a per se exception to the exclusionary rule for evidence seized after a 4th Amendment "knock and announce" violation, as the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court have held, or is evidence subject to suppression after such violations, as the 6th and 8th Circuits, the Arkansas Supreme Court and the Maryland Court of Appeals have held?  More . . . [Mark Godsey]

January 8, 2006 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 7, 2006

SCOTUS to Decide what Emergency Circumstances Justify Warrantless Searches

From The Supreme Court said Friday it would clarify when police can enter a home without a search warrant, in a case involving Utah officers who watched a fight through a window.  Justices will consider officers' handling of an early morning complaint in Brigham City about a loud party. The officers peered through a door and windows and saw four adults restraining a juvenile, who then broke free and punched one of the adults in the face. The officers entered and arrested the adults, who were charged with intoxication, disorderly conduct and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

A judge threw out the charges, on grounds that the police entered without a search warrant. In an appeal, the state of Utah argued that courts are deeply divided on what emergency circumstances are required for warrantless police entries.  The case is Brigham City v. Stuart, 05-502. [Mark Godsey]

January 7, 2006 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

More Cities Install Public Suveillance Cameras

We previously blogged about this phenomenon here.  Now LA and Gary, Indiana have jumped on the surveillance camera bandwagon.  [Mark Godsey]

January 4, 2006 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 2, 2006

Sherry Colb on Warrantless Wiretaps

Here. [Jack Chin]

January 2, 2006 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Muslim Sites Monitored for Radiation

Story here. [Jack Chin]

December 24, 2005 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Domestic Surveillance

Dan Solove posts on the developing story here and here. [Jack Chin]

December 17, 2005 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Interesting New 4th Amendment Case

From  "A defendant "abandoned" her purse and wallet for purposes of the Fourth Amendment when she left them in her unlocked vehicle after running off the road in the middle of the night and did not contact police or make arrangements to retrieve the vehicle until the next day, the Utah Supreme Court held Nov. 22. The court said a contrary decision by the intermediate appellate court and the caselaw on which that court relied went astray by confusing Fourth Amendment and property law standards of abandonment. (States v. Rynhart, Utah, No. 20040115, 11/22/05).

December 7, 2005 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Nude Photos of Jennifer Aniston

can't possibly be "illegal" if taken from a lawful vantagepoint with commercially available and commonly used equipment, can they?  At least, they cannot violate a "reasonable expectation of privacy", right?  But lawyers who filed a lawsuit described on The Smoking Gun say otherwise.  This matter is slightly reminiscent of a U Penn student who photographed some other students in flagrante delicto, and then distributed those photos.  At first the enterprising photographer was subjected to disciplinary proceedings, but the charges were ultimately dropped. [Jack Chin]

December 6, 2005 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (5)

Stop, "Taser Time" in Indiana Leads to Lawsuit

After being pulled over for allegedly running a red light, submitting to sobriety tests and inconclusive breathalyzer tests, police officers informed 40 year-old Jennifer Marshall that she would be taken to jail unless she submitted to a chemical blood test.  When Marshall told the officers she didn't know the meaning of submitting to a "chemical test" and that she wanted to make a phone call (to her attorney), the officers simultaneously denied Marshall permission to make the call.  And when she wouldn't drop the phone on demand, the officers wrestled Marshall onto the hood of her car, declared "Taser time" and jolted Marshall's arm with the device. The incident was captured on the officers' cruiser camera, the video of which will be used in her suit for excessive use of force. . . [Mark Godsey]

December 6, 2005 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Wily in Washington: State Trooper Goes "Panhandler" to Bust Drivers

CrimProfs John Strait of Seattle Law and John Junker of Washington Law say the tactic may have been sly, but it's perfectly legal.  A Washington State Trooper posed on the side of the road wearing a cardboard sign that read, "Happy Holidays, Buckle Up," while keeping a close look to see if drivers were buckled up.  If not, he radioed a fellow trooper down the road to make a stop.  A few drivers even offered the trooper money, thinking he was a panhandler. In all, the ploy enabled the troopers to make 41 stops, give 30 tickets at $101 a piece, make six outstanding warrant arrests, and one drug arrest.  Story. . . [Mark Godsey]

December 6, 2005 in CrimProfs, Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 5, 2005

New York: Random Subway Searches Upheld

Here's Daniel Solove's extensive coverage of the decision over at Concurring Opinions. UPDATE:   Here's more. [Jack Chin]

December 5, 2005 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Do "Wasp Sniffs" Constitute a Search?

Wasps may be replacing dogs in the future for sniffing out drugs and explosives.  [Mark Godsey, hat tip to Curtis Scribner]

December 4, 2005 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Interesting New 4th Amendment Case

The Sixth Circuit holds that entries onto home's curtilage by tax assessor are not searches for purposes of the 4th Amendment.  Decision here.  [Mark Godsey, via CrimProf Michael Mannheimer at NKU]

November 18, 2005 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

South Carolina: Illegitimate Traffic Stops for Money

From "A state trooper was arrested Friday after authorities accused him of taking thousands of dollars from Hispanic motorists instead of issuing traffic tickets...Lexington County Sheriff James Metts said investigators were tipped off after a farmer asked if it was appropriate for police to stop migrant workers and take money without issuing a ticket.

Witnesses and victims spoke little to no English, the sheriff said. 'I think most of them were pulled over because they were Hispanic,' Metts said. 'This person wasn't interested in making legitimate stops in my opinion. He was interested in extracting money from these people.'" [Mark Godsey]

November 12, 2005 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Oral Argument in 4th Amendment Consent Case

Yesterday, SCOTUS heard oral argument in Georgia v. Randolph.  Question presented:  Can police search a home when a co-habitant consents and the other co-habitant is present and does not consent?  Details here.  [Mark Godsey]

November 8, 2005 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

A Campaign for Surveillance Cameras

From "In August, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced a deal in which the aeronautics giant Lockheed Martin lead a group of contractors in installing a $212 million, 1,000-camera surveillance system in the city's subway stations. The agreement, which also included 3,000 motion sensors and cellphone service in many stations, came on the heels of the London subway bombings in July.

But in Forest Hills, Queens, residents have long clamored for cameras. And they are still wondering when, or if, cameras will be installed, and why other stations have received cameras when theirs haven't." 

The simple answer, lack of funds.  But Community Council members in Queens are campaigning for the cameras; they point to a string of crimes in Queens subway stations that could have been resolved much sooner if they had cameras to catch people in the act. [Mark Godsey]

November 8, 2005 in Search and Seizure | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Pilot Program in the OC to Track Sex Offenders in Relation to Crime Scenes

From Santa Ana, CA (AP): "While global positioning systems (GPS) are used to track parolees across the country, Orange County [California] will be the first to automatically cross-reference their location with the scene of a recent crime.  The state is paying for the two-year pilot program.

"It's one of those great tools to potentially identify a suspect, but it also helps us eliminate those people who have not committed the crime," Sheriff Michael S. Carona said Friday.

Under the system, the sheriff's department will send the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation information on crimes committed in its jurisdiction.  If a parolee was within 500 feet of a crime scene, the state will notify the sheriff's department. The department can also ask which parolees were closest to a crime scene.

This week, GPS tracking began for 21 high-risk sex offenders in Orange County. Officials expect to increase the number to 40 within two weeks.  Carona said he wants to expand the system to include all high-risk sex offenders, along with gang members, drug dealers and stalkers. Eventually, it should include all people on probation or parole, Carona said....

Monitoring a parolee with GPS costs the state $8.75 per day along with the $9.70 per day it costs to supervise someone on parole." Story... [Mark Godsey]

October 29, 2005 in Law Enforcement, Search and Seizure, Sex | Permalink | TrackBack (0)