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Divided Supreme Court rehears police home search case

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Thursday reheard oral arguments on whether police must continue to knock and announce themselves before entering a person’s home to seize evidence with a warrant in order for the seizure to be constitutional under the Fourth Amendment [GPO backgrounder] ban on unreasonable search and seizure. In Hudson v. Michigan [Duke Law backgrounder; merit briefs], Booker Hudson was convicted of cocaine possession based on evidence seized during the search of his home, which the police entered three to five seconds after knocking and announcing themselves. The Court has previously held that police must generally wait 15 to 20 seconds before forcibly entering the home.

The Court first heard arguments [JURIST report] for Hudson v. Michigan in January when now-retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor [Oyez profile] was still on the bench, but needed to re-hear the arguments for Justice Samuel Alito [Oyez profile] to break an apparent tie. Alito seemed sympathetic to the police and focused on whether there was a connection between the failure to wait for someone to answer the door and the seizure of evidence, while Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia [Oyez profiles] criticized Hudson’s claim, indicating that the cocaine would have been discovered either way. The issue seems to have divided the Court, with the more liberal justices appearing sympathetic to Hudson. Justice Stephen Breyer [Oyez profile] stated that it would be “risky and unprecedented” if the Court rules against Hudson and Justice David Souter [Oyez profile] suggested that the Court follow its previous rulings protecting a person’s home. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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