Hudson v. Michigan

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547 U.S. 586 (2006), argued 9 Jan. 2006, reargued 18 May 2006, decided 15 June 2006 by vote of 5 to 4; Scalia for the Court, joined by Roberts, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy, in part; concurrence by Kennedy; dissent by Breyer, joined by Stevens, Souter, and Ginsburg. Following a search under warrant, Hudson was arrested for drug possession with intent to deliver. A Detroit police officer had knocked and announced the warrant but waited only three to five seconds before entering Hudson's residence, where he found a quantity of crack cocaine. Even though the prosecution admitted that the police officer's action violated the knock-and-announce requirement laid down by the Supreme Court in Wilson v. Arkansas (1995), Michigan appellate courts allowed the evidence under a state ruling that exclusion was not required when entry was made pursuant to a warrant, even without the proper knock-and-announce procedure.

In the majority opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia held that judges could not exclude evidence for a knock-and-announce violation only. He distinguished this case from evidence seized in a warrantless search, which requires suppression. The knock-and-announce rule was intended to protect police officers, private property, and the privacy and dignity of residents, not to prevent the government from seizing evidence appropriately described in a warrant. Applying a cost-benefit analysis common to Court decisions in this area since the 1980s, Scalia concluded that excluding evidence in these cases would “amount … to a get-out-of-jail-free card.” (p 595).

Breyer, writing for the minority, argued that the Court had abandoned precedent dating to the thirteenth century, destroyed the legal incentive to comply with the Fourth Amendment's knock-and-announce requirement (which the Court had affirmed unanimously a decade earlier in Wilson), and undermined the exclusionary rule. The Court's decision in Hudson followed a general trend since the 1970s by treating the exclusionary rule as a judicial remedy rather than a requirement under the Fourth Amendment.

David J. Bodenhamer

Subjects: Law.

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